Holding Tony Hall, BBC director general to account over Savile

BBC director general Tony Hall

BBC Director General Tony hall. Pic Credit:BBC


The press launch of Dame Janet Smith’s forensic review into Savile’s  predatory activities at the BBC was an impressive affair.

Survivors are naturally disappointed that she failed to land a terminal blow on senior management at the BBC. They did not have the satisfaction of seeing heads roll for Savile getting away with sexually or indecently assaulting 72 people at different BBC venues or in private flats after attending BBC events. But it was not a whitewash.

It was impressive for two reasons. Dame Janet is a formidable performer ( as I found out when I tried to sneak  two questions past her) and had a  real grasp of the issues of why Savile had been able to get away with his monstrous behaviour for decades.

Tony Hall – who looked visibly moved after reading her horrific findings – did not take the easy way out. He did not as I feared say this was a dark period for the BBC but now everything was OK  after new measures had been taken to protect children and encourage whistleblowers. He took it on the chin the modified conclusion of Dame Janet that there could be another manipulative, charming, clever paedophile still working at the BBC or any other major organisation. He also pledged to do something about it.

Dame  Janet who in my view gratuitously threw away half her terms of reference dealing with recommendations for new child protection guidelines has laid down a pretty tough schedule to make sure something is really done at the BBC.

As she says  “My recommendation is that within, say six months of this report, the BBC should set out its official response to all the reports and should explain what its current rules, policies and procedures are in respect of each of the areas which have been open to criticism and demonstrate that these apply current best practice.”

“…the BBC should.. commission an independent audit of the operation of those rules, policies and procedures. It should set out the timeframe in which each of these areas will be subject to audit, how the audit will be undertaken and should confirm that the results of each audit will be made public. Further, it should undertake now to make any changes to procedures recommended by those audits to ensure that it maintains best practice in these extremely important areas.  ”

She also called for greater commitment to whistleblowers  at the BBC and for the BBC to change its hierarchy and stop its worship of “Talent” who  like Savile seemed to be able to get away with anything as a BBC VIP.

Tony Hall has to be held accountable to do all of this. His contrition should not been seen as a one day wonder. He owes it to brave journalists like Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean,  who were determined to expose Savile but were thwarted by the BBC establishment. He owes it, above all to all the survivors, and any future victim of sexual abuse on BBC premises.

All this will come when the BBC is under enormous pressure to cut costs savagely  under Charter Renewal and with Rupert Murdoch seeking to destroy the BBC as a  formidable media player. But the promises he made to survivors must be carried out.

He also ought to commit the BBC to playing a much bigger role in investigative journalism and use its resources to bear down remorselessly on issues like child sex abuse and corruption that need exposing. The pressure for  that won’t come  from Dame Janet.

I got the impression yesterday that investigative journalists were not Dame Janet’s favourite people. She thought that an accurate and comprehensive leak of her report  on a  issue of  major importance in a publicly funded institution was not in the public interest. Really?

12 thoughts on “Holding Tony Hall, BBC director general to account over Savile

  1. This is very selective analysis from both yourself and Dame J. and, I would suggest, a sop towards the credible audience that believes our establishment is being cleansed.

    I used to work in entertainment and media, in a variety of middle-weight positions, and it is my firm belief that there are so many, low and middle-rankers (like myself) in ents, the police force and security/driving that both the BBC and Westminster scandals could (and should) have been put to bed by now. The truth is out there, the political will is not and never will be.
    Until more journos write what they mean and not that which they feel is expedient, this ‘power’ structure will remain as corrupt and self-serving as it was in the fifties, when I was born..

    I think you are treading water, David. I am usually interested to read your stuff, but this is disappointing.


    • Fair criticism. My natural instincts would be to be more critical. But this is the judge who rightly investigated the murdering doctor Harold Shipman. So I thought I would see whether the BBC would put its house in order or whether more stuff would turn up in the next six months. I realise she is no friend of investigative journalists.


      • OK. But I suggest that you know as well as I do that no ‘cleaning’ will be done until the house is ‘clean’.
        I have been watching the VIP/HoP since the early 90s (probably the same as yourself) and all that has happened is that we’ve been given a few token heads on sticks.
        This child abuse was industrialised, at great cost to it’s victims and the country and, if, as I believe, we have a manipulated hierarchy; trying to beat them at their own game does not seem sensible.
        I think we need to bounce them along a bit…


      • Yes I am watching with more than concern the attempt by the main stream media to try and close down Operation Midland before the IPCC can report on possible other cover ups.


  2. Hmm the judge didn’t do her job but a little just to appease those chasing the story. Yet BBC clean house.How can it when too many Tories reside at this once proud establishment? Yet justice for those who were abused not at the bbc jeff3



  4. Well my view of the BBc the past 18 months is that it is becoming a submissive little s**t to the USA. More and more coverage of US sport, brazen contempt of its charter over Brexit etc etc.

    What you need to address is the Security Service infestation and the effects it has on internal culture and geopolitical strategy reporting…..


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