Fears of BBC whitewash as Savile inquiry results delayed

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The much anticipated publication of transcripts from the BBC’s inquiry into the Jimmy Savile scandal has sparked fears of a cover-up after the investigation uncovered internal tensions between staff at the beleaguered broadcasting giant.

The BBC had pledged to place the findings before the public in January, however the inquiry uncovered such bitter recriminations amongst some employees including serious personal criticisms, that publication has been delayed.

It is now expected that the final account will be held back until February in order to allow lawyers to scrutinise the transcripts to redact any material that would be likely to cause offence or lead to legal action.  The BBC is said to be concerned that the criticisms are so extreme that some members of staff may find it difficult to work together.

The inquiry which was led by Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News, received more than a thousand pages of transcripts, e-mails, texts and other documents. 

Jeremy Paxman, the presenter of Newsnight, was understood to have been particularly critical when interviewed.  Mr Paxman is understood to have given a frank and open testimony.

Nineteen others gave testimony over a six week period.  Questioning was led by Alan McLean QC who represented Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell during the Hutton Inquiry.

Speaking in December at the launch of the inquiry, Chair of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten said: “We will hand over all that material to the BBC. Publication will be for the BBC.”

He added: “We will publish what we get from Mr Pollard, not only the annexes but other documents as well.  We will be doing it in January.”

However, speaking earlier this week, a BBC trust spokeswoman said: “We have received the relevant documents from the Pollard team, and will publish these shortly.  There has been a slight delay while they are prepared for publication.”

The spokesman refused to give a reason for the delay.

MEANWHILE, another former BBC presenter, Stuart Hall, has been charged with one count of rape and fourteen offences of serious assault after a police investigation.

The alleged offences date from 1967 to 1986.  The alleged rape involves a 22 year old woman in 1976 and the indecent assault charges involve ten girls from the ages of nine to sixteen.

Hall, who became famous as the host of It’s a Knockout went on to achieve cult status as a football commentator and pundit for BBC Radio 5 Live.

He was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and charity.