Veteran presenter slams 'witchhunt' against BBC over Savile
THERE has been a "disturbing relish" in the way critics have laid into the BBC over the Jimmy Savile sex scandal, according to veteran presenter Jonathan Dimbleby.
The broadcaster said there has been a "witchhunt" against the corporation since allegations that the late Jim'll Fix it star abused hundreds of young girls and women - some on BBC premises - emerged.
In an interview with The Times, the Radio 4 presenter, who first started working at the BBC in the late 1960s, said: "I think it's disgraceful and horribly out of proportion to hound everyone at the BBC in a way that is unwarranted and lacks perspective when the real focus should be on what Savile did wrong.
"Paedophilia is a huge national problem that no one thought about 50 years ago and is now something that concerns everyone, but this has become a witchhunt against the BBC."
Blaming the media and politicians for getting their priorities wrong, Mr Dimbleby added: "Organisations that have come under flack recently such as newspapers and MPs want to get their revenge. They think the BBC is too smug and holier-than-thou.
"But there is a disturbing relish in the way the critics have laid into the BBC, holding today's office-holders to account for what happened 30 years ago."
Comedian Freddie Starr was released on bail for a second time last night after being questioned by police investigating the abuse scandal.
The 69-year-old, from Warwickshire, was held on suspicion of sexual offences before being re-bailed to a date in December.
He has consistently denied any involvement in the alleged abuse and last month branded Savile "despicable" and "disgusting", urging police to interview him so he could clear his name.
His release came as solicitor Liz Dux said Savile's estate, the BBC and three hospitals - Stoke Mandeville, Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor - are facing possible legal action by alleged victims.
Ms Dux, who is representing more than 20 people who claim to have been sexually assaulted, said formal notice had been sent to "all interested parties" of an intention to pursue claims against them.
Lawyers are also looking into the late presenter's overseas assets, thought to be administered from tax haven the Channel Islands.
Savile's estate, reportedly worth £4.3 million, has been frozen in response to the mounting allegations.
NatWest Bank, which is acting as the Jim'll Fix It presenter's executor and trustee, said the distribution of his assets had been put on hold in anticipation of legal action from his alleged victims.
Savile's relatives said they do not want a penny of his estate and called for the cash to be donated to an organisation to tackle sex crimes.
Starr's arrest followed that of Gary Glitter on Sunday by officers working on Operation Yewtree.
Former pop star Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was questioned at a central London police station after being detained at his home in the capital.
Savile, who died last year at the age of 84, is now believed to have been one of the UK's most prolific abusers, with about 300 possible victims.
Scotland Yard is leading a national investigation into the television and radio star's activities.
Detectives are following 400 lines of inquiry, while the BBC has launched an inquiry into the culture and practices at the corporation in the era of Savile's alleged sexual abuse.
It is also looking at the decision-making process which saw a Newsnight investigation into Savile's activities shelved. The review, led by Nick Pollard, former head of Sky News, will report back on its findings later this month.