BBC Director General George Entwistle says the corporation will investigate allegations of sexual abuse by Sir Jimmy Savile once the current police investigation has concluded.
“I think this has to be done in two phases,” Entwistle said on Radio 4’s Today programme. “First the police are given the chance to do everything they have to do – that is the only way justice can possibly be done for the women in question. But once the police assure me that they have done everything they have to do, then, we can take a look properly.”
He added: “The police have made clear to me that other people around Jimmy Savile may have known things that should have and would have properly been a matter of criminal inquiry. I can’t prejudge that”.
Entwistle, who has worked for the BBC since 1989, said he had never personally heard rumours about Jimmy Savile commiting sexual abuse, but said Savile “was regarded by a great many people as odd, a bit peculiar and that was something I was aware some people believed.”
The director general also admitted that he had been told last December that the BBC’s Newsnight had launched an investigation into Savile, but said the programme’s editor, Peter Rippon, had not been told to kill the item by senior managers.
“I didn’t know what had become of that investigation,” Entwistle said. “I didn’t know of discoveries, if any, that they had made.”
The BBC has come under intense pressure to launch an investigation into Savile’s conduct in the 1970s and 1980s since an ITV Exposure documentary broadcast last week brought to light a number of allegations of sexual abuse by five women.
Since then a number of new allegations have been levelled against the late presenter and broadcaster.