October 23 – George Entwistle told members of Parliament today that there was no cover-up of the Jimmy Savile scandal, and that no pressure was put on “Newsnight” editor Peter Rippon to cancel a documentary on Savile last December. But not everyone is buying his account.
It is known that after working on a program to expose Savile’s exploits, and finding many women who claimed to have been abused by him, the documentary never aired. It is also known that the BBC was planning to air three tributes to Savile last Christmas. One member of Parliament, John Wittingdale, was skeptical of what Entwistle said, stating that the new BBC chief “was in the process of commissioning the most fulsome tributes to Jimmy Savile, which went out on the BBC over that Christmas, and I just find it very surprising that, having been told by the director of news, given a warning, he didn’t think it appropriate at least to ask what the investigation was about.”
Parliament members are also expressing disbelief that Entwistle’s predecessor, Mark Thompson, knew nothing. P.D. James, the famous crime novelist, said that “Thompson has dropped George Entwistle right in it by stepping down as the BBC’s director-general when he did.” James added that “It seems everyone knew about Jimmy Savile.” Everyone, apparently, but Mark Thompson.
Just recently the head of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, Esther Rantzen, admitted that she knew Savile had abused children, but never did anything about it. “We made him into the Jimmy Savile who was untouchable, who nobody could criticize.” Now that Savile is dead, there is less justification for not telling the truth. Which is why Thompson is sure to be grilled by Parliament.