The BBC was guilty of serious failings over Jimmy Savile, the late TV presenter revealed to have been one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, but senior managers did not know what he was up to, a major report said on Thursday.
In 2012, British police said Savile, one of the Britain’s best-known celebrities of the 1970s and 1980s, had abused hundreds of victims, mainy of whom were children, at hospitals and at BBC premises over six decades until his death aged 84 in 2011.
Thursday’s report by former Appeal Court judge Janet Smith, commissioned by the publicly-funded broadcaster in the wake of those revelations, concluded Savile had abused 72 victims in relation to his BBC work over almost 50 years.
His crimes included raping a 10-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.
Smith said while there were some reports made by staff about Savile’s conduct, these were never escalated due to a culture of “not complaining about anything”, while the BBC’s stars were treated with “kid gloves”.
She found that while junior and middle-ranking individuals knew about his behaviour, there was no evidence that the BBC, as a corporate body, was aware.
“This report makes sorry reading for the BBC,” Smith said in the conclusion of her 372,400-word report which took two-and-a-half years to complete.
“It seems to me that the BBC needs to demonstrate to the public that it has taken the current criticisms seriously and has made, or is making, such changes as are necessary and appropriate to ensure that these terrible events cannot occur again.”