Exaro Exclusive: Dame Janet Smith’s criticism of the BBC over Savile

Jimmy Savile BBC

Jimmy Savile : Credit: BBC clip

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On the day Dame Janet Smith finally promised to publish her findings into the activities of paedophile Jimmy Savile in the BBC Exaro has published the main points in her draft report which examined and analysed what happened at our major broadecaster.

The report is a devastating critique of  the BBC’s culture in the 1970s and 1980s where ” talent” was ” untouchable”, managers were ” above the law” and there was a heavy drinking culture among top executives.

Her report outlines multiple rapes and indecent assaults on girls and boys, and incidents of “inappropriate sexual conduct” with teenagers above 16, all “in some way associated with the BBC”. Altogether there were over 60 victims and possibly up to 100 people had heard rumours about his activities, but nearly all at shop floor rather than managerial level.

“Three of Savile’s victims were only nine years old.”

Many BBC employees told Smith’s “review” that they had heard about Savile’s predatory sexual conduct, but feared reporting concerns to managers. But Smith accepts a series of denials by senior figures that they were aware of Savile’s sexual misconduct.

Most of Savile’s rapes, attempted rapes and more serious sexual assaults took place in his flats or caravans, she says.

“However, I heard of incidents that took place in virtually every one of the BBC premises at which he worked. These included the BBC Television Theatre (in connection with Jim’ll Fix It), at Television Centre (in particular in connection with Top of the Pops), at Broadcasting House or Egton House (where he worked in connection with BBC Radio 1), Lime Grove studios and various provincial studios, including Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow.

Exaro reveals today how Smith’s draft report:

We also publish the key extracts from the Smith report’s summary and conclusions, and from its damning chapter on the BBC’s management culture.

I will comment about this in a later blog but the revelations as anyone can see are wide ranging and very substantial.

 

 

Jimmy Savile: How the BBC have by passed Dame Janet Smith’s child sexual abuse review

Jimmy Savile BBC

Jimmy Savile: Credit: BBC clip

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The BBC is an extremely adept organisation in managing news – especially involving its own organisation. So faced with the huge Jimmy Savile scandal it launched a review into how the culture at the BBC allowed such a monster celebrity to get away with such vile and nasty crimes for so long.It also had a remit to decide what child protection and whistle blowing policies were needed to prevent it happening again.

The Corporation appointed a very well respected former judge, Dame Janet Smith, who investigated the appalling misdeeds of murderer Harold Shipman – a GP who killed his own patients.

Her report finished over a year ago  remains unpublished because of ongoing police investigations and no date has even been set when it will see the light of day.

But midway through her inquiry the BBC suddenly changed  the remit of the inquiry – separating the investigation into what  went wrong from the recommendations  of what is needed to put everything right in the BBC’s present day child protection and whistleblowing policies.

This change in  the terms of reference of an inquiry -midway through an investigation- looks pretty unusual to me. It hasn’t happened elsewhere to my knowledge. The reason given was the trial of BBC presenter Stuart Hall was delaying the report’s publication ( rather ironical given that it is still not published) and there was a need to get the BBC’s child protection and whistleblowing policies sorted out. In fact the trial was over within six weeks.

Nevertheless by then the BBC had appointed Good Corporation, a business ethics company, without tendering, to do the work  on changing present day policies for an unknown fee.

The full saga is reported by me and Tim Wood on the Exaro website today.

The findings of Good Corporation’s report were made public last July on the very day the BBC issued its annual report and accounts which dominated the media. You can read them on Exaro here. They are full of praise for the BBC’s current child protection policies and have little criticism of its whistleblowing policies.

Evidently the BBC is a wonderful place to work, women are rarely sexually harassed by men and  don’t  formally complain about this sort of thing anyway and with a few tweaks whistleblowing works perfectly.

What I find extraordinary is that  the BBC seem to have got away with putting the cart before the horse over Savile. We have no idea what Dame Janet Smith has found out about BBC culture, though there are rumours that the report could be damning

Yet  we have a business consultancy already acquitting the BBC of any problems over child protection and whistleblowing before we know. what the report says. How can the lessons be learned without first presenting the evidence.

Finally there is an extraordinary rub. All this information I have reported is in the public domain but has never been reported by the press which seemed to be asleep on the job. The change to the terms of reference and Good Corporation report findings were openly announced by the BBC. Yet no one was interested  even though Jimmy Savile is the most prominent paedophile ever to have lived in the UK. Amazing.

 

The BBC Panorama child sex abuse fall out: No one yet knows the truth

Elm Guest House:  One of the alleged venues which Panorama debunked

Elm Guest House: One of the alleged venues which Panorama debunked

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Investigating allegations of historic child sex abuse is the most difficult job I have ever undertaken as a journalist.

Normally in an investigation you can get documents, find trusted sources, and corroborate information.

 Child sex abuse is  by its nature a private act between two  people-one who is not capable of giving consent.

 The person who is abused is likely to  be damaged for life by such an experience and could find it difficult to relate to other people. So prior to the Jimmy Savile expose hardly anybody believed them.

 The perpetrator  who would suffer huge damage to his or her reputation if found out  will go to any length to cover their tracks -including, if the current  Met Police criminal investigation , Operation Midland, is to be believed, murder.

Rack this up and say you wish to uncover acts more than 30 years ago- when mobile phones  and the internet were science fiction- involving very, very powerful people in high places who can pull strings and you have made it doubly difficult.

That is why it is absurd  for the BBC to put out a documentary claiming to reveal the truth about the Westminster paedophile ring when the story is only half complete, when the police haven’t finished their investigation, and nobody has tested the evidence.

The result was a documentary that probably left the public confused, the police visibly annoyed because it could have put off new people coming forward to help them complete their investigations and the survivors who were interviewed by the BBC worried they had been traduced.

The programme was right to show that closed cases including paedophile teachers and headmasters , celebrities and other powerful people had been found guilty because brave survivors had come forward, been believed, and won justice in the courts.

They were also right to raise the questions of when a suspect should be named publicly – because of the damage it could cause to their reputation. But I have little sympathy for Harvey Proctor, the ex MP who protested too much, because he put into the public domain what the allegations were against him before an investigationhas concluded whether they could be true or false. He is no shrinking violet.

At the moment information about this dark side of British history is coming to light in a piecemeal fashion. So the BBC cannot possibly know the ” truth ” about events in the past. It would have been far better if the Panorama team, who say they have spent a year on this, had waited another year before promising to come forward with a considered judgement.

 I would like them to concentrate on how the BBC has come to terms in tackling its own problem in handling the culture that allowed paedophiles like Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall to thrive unchecked. They have a big report from Dame Janet Smith which will eventually have to be published – and they have already looked at the damage Jimmy Savile caused in the NHS. That would be a Panorama worth watching.

An important read: Why Exaro director Tim Pendry feels we should continue to investigate the Westminster paedophile ring

JusticiaI am reproducing this comment from  Tim Pendry one of Exaro’s directors, following the BBC Panorama programme last night. It tries to put into context the current investigation into child sex abuse. I have my own views and may do a blog myself later.

PERSONAL STATEMENT ON EXARO AND THE CURRENT MEDIA WAR OVER THE REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE

[This personal statement on the current ‘smear campaigns’ being undertaken against the Founders of Exaro and against Exaro itself was published on my Personal Blog at the weekend. There may be more to say on the innuendo employed in that smear campaign but not at this time. Exaro must be allowed to continue its investigative work, as must the police, into allegations of child abuse by significant persons without further distraction. If the allegations are not true, then Exaro and the Police will eventually find out and say so. And if they are true … ]

When I created ExaroNews I had no idea of where it would lead. Its purpose was simply to ‘hold power to account’ through investigative journalism under the leadership of an honest editor … a type in our society who is as valuable as an honest cop. We found that honest editor in Mark Watts.

The next stage was to get funding and this we did. What few seem to understand is that the funding came with a condition on our part – no interference by the shareholders in editorial decision-making. There was no quarrel with this and I signed away my own ability to tell Mark what to do, neither to cajole nor to threaten.

A risk was taken by us that he would continue to maintain the highest journalistic standards and not be frightened by the brute weight of the political establishment, of the dark forces to be found in every society or of rival media embarrassed that Exaro would achieve what they had signally failed to do – hold power to account – despite their massively greater resources.

Exaro does not have massive resources but it has had sufficient resources to follow through on what has become one of the biggest investigations of our age – allegations that child abuse and worse (if anything can be worse) were covered up by the powerful. This was the decision of the editorial team and no one else.

Those who followed the Kincora Case are fully aware of what very small groups of people within the system are capable of. One should not ever assume that institutions are necessarily acting in our interest simply because that is what they claim that they are doing. To me (as an outsider), it was always reasonable that they should investigate this matter much as they have investigated many other matters.

At no time (to my knowledge) has Exaro pre-judged the issue in regard to the child abuse allegations – the police once used an unfortunate turn of phrase but that is not the responsibility of Exaro. Exaro appears to have listened to claims and undertaken what investigation it could, reasonably publishing the results. Even to suggest (as one blogger appears to have done) that Exaro had the power or influence to initiate police investigations is almost comically absurd.

The mainstream media’s initial approach to Exaro was to try and kill it by ignoring it. Its ability to set the agenda has emerged as a result of editorial persistence. The police make their own decisions on what is worthy of investigation from their perspective and what is not. The allegations have clearly been taken seriously by the police who, despite the ragged and sensationalist reporting of the mainstream media, have reiterated their own high professional standards in an important statement.

That article is well worth re-reading because it makes it very clear that the police are very concerned about the reporting of witness statements and the risks that the media might prejudice their investigations and later court cases while still managing to assert their belief in the importance of the responsible media in assisting investigations.

The publication by Exaro of this police statement in full (which no other media have done despite their public interest claims) is taken by me to mean that Exaro is in in agreement with it. Subsequent public comment by the Editor of Exaro on Twitter suggests that he remains concerned about the conduct of other media in relation to the witnesses and any pre-judgment of investigations. He must speak for himself – I cannot.

The allegations are also taken seriously by some prominent and rather politically brave politicians – it is gratifying that their courage has not halted their careers. Being taken seriously by police, leading politicians and Exaro does not make allegations true but it does make them worthy of investigation in a free and open society. If not, we may as well be in a closed dictatorship.

It must be made clear that at no time (despite my own close interest in the subject of which the Editor knew nothing) have I had any say or influence in the subject matter of the investigation. Neither I nor any Director were consulted on the investigation at its inception or since. I have no idea whether the allegations are true or false. I consider it reasonable, by the very nature of things, that mistakes may have been made or could yet be made but also that the allegations are far from being easily dismissed.

Everything I have read to date (noting that this has been going on now for some two years or so) suggests that Exaro and, entirely separately, the investigating police officers have cause to be interested in the allegations, have no political angle whatsoever, are professionally committed to what they are doing in their very different spheres and are utterly right to reveal any possibility of wrong-doing in the public interest in order to explore the evidential base for claims.

One is not naive – I am aware of past scandals such as the absurd satanic abuse claims of several decades ago. The possibility of such phenomena as false memory or political manipulation has to be taken into account but the right approach is not to walk away but to investigate even these possibilities rationally and in an evidence-based way, especially in the wake of the Jimmy Savile Scandal which the BBC signally failed to investigate adequately while it was happening on its very door step. In my opinion, the BBC lacks all credibility in this area and should stand down.

My own interest is now simply as an observer while others are engaged in serious professional struggles that might have equally serious reputational consequences for them if they do get it wrong. That is their risk – I don’t actually share that risk. But let me give one solid reason why I suggest that the investigation may have merit and it is this.

If the investigation had no merit, I would not personally be subject, over many months, to repeated and aggressive internet attacks on my integrity based on half-truths and failures to obtain the facts directly from me (it is not as if I am hidden on the internet), including attacks on relatives of mine using innuendo.

The flow of false claims about Exaro and the individuals involved in Exaro suggest that we are seeing a campaign of deliberate attempted destabilisation of the investigations in which some mainstream media have now found themselves to be ‘useful idiots’. These mainstream journalists too must investigate but they should equally investigate the sources for the claims against the investigation. In this world of smoke and mirrors, this is becoming a test case about the sort of journalism we want in our country and so of the sort of politics and justice we are prepared to tolerate.

I am personally subject to these attacks simply because I founded Exaro News and own a minority stake in the Holding Company that owns it. That is all. It is a form of political terrorism because the aim is to create fear and anxiety surrounding reputation. The attackers seem to believe that, by attacking me, they can destabilise Exaro. They do not seem to realise that, no matter what they say about me or members of my family or my businesses or my politics, I have no power to stop any investigation even if I wished to do so – and I do not.

The nature of those personal attacks – which it seems involved hiring private investigators (who seem to have done a very poor job) to build a dossier on me (and others) which included family members – indicates that someone is rattled by these investigations. It suggests that the investigations are dangerous to someone. It suggests, on that basis alone, that the investigations are worthwhile.

Here, I write in a wholly personal capacity. I do not speak for Exaro Holdings, I do not speak for Exaro News. I speak only for an individual who has no regrets whatsoever in having kick-started an organisation, now wholly editorially independent of me and which has been so since its formation as a Company, that is prepared to turn up stones to see what lies beneath them.

I cannot take responsibility for the investigations which means I cannot take either the blame or the credit for what happens next. What I will do is say that, on the balance of probabilities and on the very fact of the attacks on me in the undergrowth of the internet, Mark Watts seems to have struck a nerve. I hope that he and his hardworking team continue to refuse to be brow-beaten as I will refuse to be brow-beaten.

Have a laugh and watch tonight Rory Bremner and the mandarins

rory bremnerDepressed or elated about the election result? Have a few laughs tonight and watch Rory Bremner’s election special about  who was holding the real power in Britain while the country was going to the polls.

I have been working as a consultant to the one off programme  which will explore the growing power of private companies running Whitehall and the role of mandarins. I know he has talked “off the record” to some pretty well placed political and Whitehall sources. You might be surprised to find out who is running the country and where we are selling our Whitehall wares. The programme is produced by the Vera – the company that has twice exposed MPs in lobbying stings – the latest being Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack straw.

Plus of course the inimitable impressions and the usual stuff from this comedian. It’s on BBC 2 at 10.0pm. It’s called Rory Bremner’s Election Report.

Why Theresa May was right to ignore David Aaronovitch over child sex abuse in North Wales

Times columnist David Aaronovitch. Pic credit :Flickr

Times columnist David Aaronovitch. Pic credit :Flickr

Two years ago when Theresa May announced she was re-opening the police investigation into the North Wales child abuse scandal  Times columnist David Aaronovitch penned a highly controversial column warning that the nation was in danger of mounting a modern witch hunt over alleged paedophilia. Indeed his post was entitled Beware a modern Salem over child abuse.

He  pointed out that both the  original John Jillings report and the ” exhaustive inquiry ” by retired judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse Lost in Care had found no evidence of a paedophile ring and therefore  there was no need for any fresh inquiries.

I remember disagreeing with him on the BBC Radio Four’s Today programme over his findings after reading the report. He was right about  Waterhouse’s findings but failed to notice that the findings somewhat jarred with the detailed evidence contained in the same report.

He also firmly disagreed with the line taken by one survivor’s solicitor, Steve Messham, that Waterhouse had too limited a remit to inquire properly into the idea of an abuse network.

Fast forward to this week and Operation Pallial, the National Crime Agency run investigation set up by Theresa May, has achieved its first scalp,John Allen. He was sent to prison for life and given he is 73 will probably die there.

Nor was this minor stuff – he was convicted of 33 extra charges – that somehow had been missed in an earlier police investigation. The full background is outlined here in the Liverpool Daily Post. And he is not the only one to face new allegations which will be heard in future trials. To be accurate the latest Pallial statistics say 13 more people are facing trial, there are over 100 new suspects and over 200 survivors coming forward.

Now if David Aaronovitch had won the argument Mr Allen would be a free man and would have got away with all this and died peacefully at home. A  lot of survivors claims would never have been proven and left to fester on no doubt ” lurid and preposterous” ( as Aaronvitch would have it) sites on the internet.

Of course Mr Allen, who had already been found guilty of previous offences, claimed in his defence he wasn’t gay, was not sexually attracted to children and had suffered a “miscarriage of justice ” when he was convicted in  the first place. His accusers were making it up to get compensation money, his defence lawyers said. The jury did not buy this.

I raise this because some of the commentariat and the Establishment believe the latest allegations of a Westminster paedophile ring and alleged murders of some of the victims is another fantasy and leading to a new witch hunt. While the investigation is in no way as advanced as Pallial – Pallial shows it needs following through.

Theresa May in setting up Pallial  and an overarching child sex abuse inquiry obviously does believe that further investigations are needed to find out  what really happened decades ago. She is in on record that this could be ” the tip of an iceberg”. David Cameron believes this is ” stuff of conspiracy theories ” and David Aaronovitch reflects this view in his own column and tweets.

I am backing Theresa May on this one.

Phone Hacking Trial: Government minister Baroness Warsi gives Coulson glowing reference – Martin Hickman

A glowing tribute from Tory minister Baroness Warsi for Andy Coulson who advised her on how to handle her BBC Question Time appearances. Didn’t know you were coached for those!

Inforrm's Blog

baroness-sayeeda-warsi Day 100:  A Government minister who attends Cabinet today gave a glowing character reference for a journalist accused of phone hacking.

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