Jimmy Savile: How the BBC have by passed Dame Janet Smith’s child sexual abuse review
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Her report finished over a year ago remains unpublished because of ongoing police investigations and no date has even been set when it will see the light of day.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.