24 Oct 2012

BBC head says no pressure to drop Savile probe

10:05 pm on 24 October 2012

The director-general of the BBC, George Entwistle, has rejected suggestions that a television report into allegations of extensive sexual abuse by one of its former stars was suppressed by senior management.

Mr Entwistle was speaking at a parliamentary committee hearing in London into sexual abuse claims against the late Sir Jimmy Savile and why the BBC dropped the report into the claims against him.

He said had been told about an investigation by television programme Newsnight while he was head of BBC Vision but did not press for more details as he did not want to show "undue interest" in a news issue.

Mr Entwistle said the Newsnight probe should not have been dropped and insisted editor Peter Rippon abandoned it "on his own account". He has asked Mr Rippon to step aside amid an inquiry.

Britain's Culture Secretary Maria Miller said "very real concerns" about public trust in the BBC have been raised.

The BBC says nine serious allegations of sexual harassment or assault regarding current staff have been made, some of which have been passed to police.

Police have launched a criminal investigation into Savile, who died last year aged 84.

They have described him as a predatory sex offender and believe he may have abused many people - including young girls - over a 40-year period, the BBC reports.