Sunday 19 November 2017

'It was 40 years ago ... the girls were not too young' - Newsnight editor's reason for dropping Savile report

The alleged victim and other former pupils were contacted and uncovered evidence of further offences at Duncroft and at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
The alleged victim and other former pupils were contacted and uncovered evidence of further offences at Duncroft and at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

John Hall

AN email from BBC reporter Liz MacKean has shed new light on how former Newsnight editor Peter Rippon killed an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile.

In the email, which is dated December 2011, Mackean allegedly describes Rippon’s reasons for shelving the investigation as creating “a perfect storm”.

The email, which has been seen by Channel 4 News, reportedly goes on to say: “Having commissioned the story, Peter Rippon keeps saying he's lukewarm about it and is trying to kill it by making impossible editorial demands.”

MacKean then details Rippon’s excuses to the Newsnight team that worked on the story, saying: “When we rebut his points, he resorts to saying: well, it was 40 years ago... the girls were teenagers, not too young... they weren't the worst kind of sexual offences etc”.

She goes on to write that she believes: “He hasn't warned BBC1 about the story, so they're beavering away on the special, oblivious.”

A spokeswoman for Peter Rippon’s lawyers refused to comment on the email until an independent review into the BBC’s management of the Newsnight investigation had concluded.

In response to the publication of the email, the BBC issued a statement to Channel 4 News.

It read: “The BBC has confirmed it has launched an independent review lead by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard which will cover these questions. It would not be appropriate to comment further until these have been concluded.”

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