Sunday 22 April 2018

Director-general regrets allowing tribute shows to disgraced DJ

BBC Director-General George Entwistle said he regretted the decision to broadcast tribute programmes to Jimmy Savile.

Mr Entwistle was told by BBC director of news Helen Boaden about the Newsnight investigation and its possible impact on planned tributes to Savile during an awards lunch on December 2.

She told Mr Entwistle, who was then director of vision, that if the Newsnight investigation went ahead, he might have to change the Christmas schedules.

Asked whether he regretted the decision to broadcast the tributes, Mr Entwistle told MPs: "In the light of what's happening, of course I do."

Asked whether the tributes may not have been aired if he raised more questions, he replied: "That's the question I have asked myself and I was trying to find the right balance."

He added: "I've been accused of intervening, of getting the Newsnight investigation stopped out of a desire to protect the Jimmy Savile programmes and accused of not having shown enough interest in the Jimmy Savile programmes.

"I was trying to find the right place on that line."

Mr Entwistle said he needed to know whether Newsnight had something that programme bosses thought was "good enough to proceed with".

He added: "I don't believe I did fail but I believe that the system as a whole seems to have got this wrong."

Asked why he did not ask more questions, he said: "It wasn't because I didn't want to know. What was in my mind was my determination not to show undue interest."

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