A Panorama special, due to air tonight at 10.35pm, will (finally) investigate the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal and asks what the BBC knew in the past, and examines the events around the dropping of the corporation's own Newsnight investigation into the subject.
Entitled Jimmy Savile - What the BBC Knew, will reportedly include "newly disclosed emails and interviews, which will raise fresh questions over the role of BBC bosses in the decision to drop the Newsnight exposé of Savile. The BBC and Newsnight editor Peter Rippon have always maintained that the investigation was dropped purely for editorial reasons as the team had found "insufficient evidence" to substantiate the report. Rippon has maintained that there was not interference from above in his decision. But Panorama will claim that Rippon told colleagues that he could not broadcast the film 'if the bosses aren't happy'."
It was reported in the Daily Mail that Rippon had resigned from Newsnight, a claim the BBC have since refuted.
Digital Spy reports that "the programme will also allege that George Entwistle, at the time the director of BBC Vision, was told he 'might have to change the Christmas schedules' if the Newsnight film went ahead as it would clash with tribute programmes to Savile. Entwistle, now the BBC director general, has always maintained that he played no part in the decision to drop the Newsnight film."
Liz MacKean, who worked on the programme for Newsnight, said: "All I can say is that it was an abrupt change in tone from, you know, one day 'excellent, let's prepare to get this thing on air' to 'hold on'... I was very unhappy the story didn't run because I felt we'd spoken to people who collectively deserved to be heard and they weren't heard and I thought that was a failing... I felt very much that I'd let them down... Ever since the decision was taken to shelve our story I've not been happy with the public statements made by the BBC. I think they're very misleading about the nature of the investigation we were doing. The story we were investigating was very clear cut. It was about Jimmy Savile being a paedophile and using his status as a charity fundraiser and television presenter to get access to places where there were vulnerable teenage girls he could abuse."
I'd imagine Liz was yet more distraught when she saw the Exposure documentary shown by ITV/TV3 in the past few weeks. While it finally gave those abused by Saville a voice, the interviewer left a lot to be desired, as did the constant rotating montage of photos depicting Jimmy giving the thumbs up while the women recounted their experiences.