THE BBC has been the victim of "hysteria" over the scandal surrounding Jimmy Savile, according to a former head of its governing body, as the number of girls abused by the disgraced presenter has hit 100.
Michael Lyons said the alleged child sex abuse committed by the late TV and radio star, which is now feared to have gone on for six decades, was a problem for a larger number of institutions other than just the BBC.
He said he would be "surprised" if 'Newsnight' had dropped a planned expose of Savile after his death because of pressure from on high, and said that the new director general of the corporation had been "pretty well faultless" in his handling of the growing furore.
Meic Stevens, a Welsh singer whose career was promoted by Savile in the late 1960s, said the DJ and 'Top of the Pops' presenter did not hide the fact that he preyed on under-age girls, and Savile had asked him "do you want one" as they travelled in his Rolls-Royce.
He said he never reported his behaviour as it was "rife" among pop stars in the 1960s, but that he considered Savile "a dirty old man".
Derek Chinnery, the controller of Radio 1 between 1978 and 1985, said he challenged Savile directly about the rumours.
"I asked, 'What's all this, these rumours we hear about you Jimmy?' And he said, 'That's all nonsense.' There was no reason to disbelieve him."
Savile worked at Radio 1 from 1969 to 1989 presenting a show of chart songs from previous decades.
Speaking about his acceptance of Savile's denial, Mr Chinnery told the BBC: "It's easy now to say how could you just believe him just like that."
He added: "He was the sort of man that attracted rumours, after all, because he was single, he was always on the move, he was always going around the country."
But Mr Lyons, who was chairman of the BBC Trust between 2007 and last year, told Sky News's 'Murnaghan' programme that the scandal extended well beyond the public service broadcaster.
As well as abusing girls in his dressing room at Television Centre, Savile used his position as a celebrity and fund-raiser to find victims in NHS hospitals, children's homes and approved schools.
"There is no doubt about the seriousness of the allegations against Jimmy Savile and they need to be taken seriously and quite properly," Mr Lyons said. (© Daily Telegraph London)