LONDON Oct 22 A crisis gripping Britain's BBC
deepened on Monday after it emerged a senior producer had warned
the broadcaster could be accused of a cover-up when it axed its
own expose into alleged sexual abuse by a one-time TV star.
Allegations that flamboyant BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, who
died last year, operated unhindered as a paedophile for years
while working for the BBC have rocked the publicly funded
Its new head, George Entwistle, is now under pressure to
explain why the BBC dropped an investigation by its Newsnight
programme into Savile last year. Mark Thompson, now the New York
Times Co's chief executive, was in charge of the BBC at the
In a programme due to be aired in Britain later on Monday, a
Newsnight producer behind the investigation, Meirion Jones, said
he had warned his editor that the BBC was at risk of being
accused of a cover-up if it did not run the story, the BBC said.
"I was sure the story would come out one way or another
and...the BBC would be accused of a cover-up," he was quoted as
saying by the BBC.
Knighted as a "Sir" by Queen Elizabeth, cigar-chomping
Savile was one of the BBC's biggest names and most recognised
television personalities, and questions have been raised about
whether the broadcaster turned a blind eye to his activities.
Police investigating alleged abuse by Savile opened a
criminal inquiry last week, saying more than 200 potential
victims had come forward since an investigation by another
British TV channel claimed he had preyed on children for
Rival commercial channel ITV broadcast interviews with women
who said Savile abused them when they were as young as 12,
sometimes on BBC premises.
Entwistle is due to appear before parliament on Tuesday to
answer what are likely to be tough questions about the case.
The BBC has launched two independent reviews of the
allegations, one looking into Savile's actions and another to
investigate why the Newsnight report was shelved.
It has not commented officially on the case, saying it would
be inappropriate to say anything until the reviews had been
The Panorama programme, due to air in Britain on Monday
night, is expected to give details of how much information the
Newsnight team had on Savile at the time.
Veteran BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson said the
BBC's handling of the case was the worst crisis to hit the
corporation in his almost 50-year career.
"I don't think the BBC has handled it terribly well," he
said, according to the BBC. "All we have as an organisation is
the trust of the people, the people that watch us and listen to
us and if we don't have that, if we start to lose that, that's
very dangerous I think for the BBC."