My set of stories for Exaro News earlier this year revealing the contents of Dame Janet Smith’s report on Jimmy Savile’s activities at the BBC has been nominated for a national media award.
The series of stories have been short listed in the breaking news story of the year for next month’s Drum On Line Media awards – pitching it against TV coverage of the Shoreham air crash , the Alton Towers disaster and the BBC’s coverage of the Paris terror attacks.
The report which was highly critical of the culture at the BBC that allowed Jimmy Savile to flourish. By the day after Exaro published the report every national paper was carrying the story.
The leaked report revealed how Dame Janet Smith, the retired judge who led the review, condemned BBC culture over Savile’s paedophile activities at the Corporation. She criticised the BBC for a “very deferential culture”, its “untouchable” stars and “above the law” managers.
In a series of articles, Exaro revealed how BBC employees were too afraid to report Savile to managers, and how BBC people feared blowing the whistle even more now.
The series of articles also exposed a BBC culture where celebrities were treated with “kid gloves” while managers drank heavily, and how the Smith review warned that “a predatory child abuser could be lurking undiscovered in the BBC even today.”
The series of 22 stories published on the same day revealed how more than 100 BBC employees told Smith that they heard about Savile’s predatory sexual conduct, and how the review raised evidence of sexual abuse at Top of the Pops that went far wider than Savile.
Exaro also published more than 37,500 words of extracts from Smith’s entire report.
I have no idea whether we will win the award but the short listing of the Exaro articles show that investigative journalism is still alive at a time when Exaro has taken criticism from other national media for its coverage of other controversial issues like the child sex abuse scandal.
I would also like to pay tribute to my brave source and my colleagues at Exaro particularly Alex Varley Winter. Without the leak of the story people would not have been so well informed on the day when the report was published and Dame Janet Smith had to account for her report and the BBC director general, Tony Hall, had to explain what he was going to do about it.