The BBC has vowed to provide “full support” to police investigating allegations of sexual abuse of teenage girls made against its former employee, the late Jimmy Savile.
In a statement, the corporation said it was “horrified” by the recent “serious and disturbing” allegations against the one-time Top of the Pops presenter.
“A number of serious and disturbing allegations have been made over the past few days about the sexual abuse of teenage girls by Jimmy Savile,” read the statement.
“Some of these allegations relate to activity on BBC premises in the 1960s and 70s. We are horrified by allegations that anything of this sort could have happened at the BBC – or have been carried out by anyone working for the BBC.
“They are allegations of a serious criminal nature which the police have the proper powers to investigate. So we have today asked the BBC Investigations Unit to make direct contact with all the police forces in receipt of allegations and offer to help them investigate these matters and provide full support to any lines of inquiry they wish to pursue.”
The BBC statement follows an earlier announcement by Surrey Police saying they had referred an allegation of rape to the London Metropolitan Police.
“A woman yesterday (Monday, 1 October) reported a historic allegation of rape,” said the statement from Surrey Police. “The alleged offence occurred in London, therefore the matter has been referred to the Metropolitan Police.”
On Wednesday night, ITV1 will screen Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, a documentary containing interviews levelling accusations of sexual abuse at Savile.
Savile’s friends and family have previously dismissed claims he was a sexual predator. Howard Silverman, a friend of 40 years, has said that suggestions of abuse are nonsense.
“Of course we would go out in the 1970s and chat women up but everyone did that at the time, we were single guys and having a good time. But none of the girls were ever unwilling and they were definitely never underage. Jimmy hated anything like that.”
Savile, who died last year aged 84, began broadcasting in 1958 on Radio Luxembourg. In 1964 he presented the first edition of BBC chart show Top of the Pops, beginning a career at the BBC which included work as a Radio 1 DJ and as host of long-running television programme Jim’ll Fix It. His considerable charity work during his life is estimated to have raised some £40m for good causes and earned him a knighthood in 1990.