Photo Credit: APNewly released transcripts from an inquiry into the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile child sex scandal reveal more about the role played by the public service broadcaster’s then director-general, New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson.
The transcripts, published Friday, show that Thompson told the inquiry late last year that he had “never heard” rumors that Savile had a “dark side of any kind, sexual or otherwise.” Savile, a celebrity entertainer who died in 2011 at age 84, is alleged to have sexually abused hundreds of children over his long BBC career.
The same inquiry, chaired by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard, was told by one of the BBC’s most prominent journalists, Jeremy Paxman, that Savile’s liking for “young girls” was “common gossip” at the BBC. Other interviewees confirmed this, with one recalling have heard rumors even before she joined the BBC well over a decade earlier.
The Pollard transcripts also criticize the way the BBC was run while Thompson was at the helm, with claims he oversaw a Beijing-style, top-heavy management structure.
“[T]hey had more senior leaders than China,” BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten told Pollard. “The management team, the senior management team, that the previous director-general [Thompson] had was 27 – 25 or 27. They never met.” (Patten has first-hand experience of China’s leadership structure; he was Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong before it reverted to mainland control in 1997.)
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