Jimmy Savile 'Gratified Himself Sexually At Every Opportunity' On BBC Premises, Dame Janet Smith's Report Finds

25/02/2016 10:11 | Updated 27 February 2016

Jimmy Savile "would gratify himself sexually on BBC premises whenever the opportunity arose" and corporation staff missed numerous opportunities to stop him, a report released on Thursday has found.

Dame Janet Smith's long-awaited report showed that there was a culture of "reverence and fear" in the BBC as staff knew of the staff knew of complaints against the DJ but were too scared to report them to senior management.

When a junior female employee at Television Centre complained to her supervisor that she had been sexually assaulted by Savile, she was told "keep your mouth shut, he is a VIP", the report found.

jimmy savile

Jimmy Savile

Dame Janet said girls who dared to complain about being sexually assaulted were regarded as "a nuisance" and their claims not properly dealt with.

Dame Janet said the report makes "sorry reading" for the BBC.

Rona Fairhead, chair of BBC Trust, said that she was "saddened and appalled" by the information revealed in the report (read the full statement below).

Lord Hall, director general of the BBC, apologised today to the victims of Savile and Stuart Hall, saying: "The BBC failed you when it should have protected you. I'm deeply sorry for the hurt caused to each and every one of you."

BBC staff missed a string of opportunities dating back to the late 1960s to stop Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84 never having been brought to justice for his crimes and is now believed to be one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.

Dame Janet found that a number of BBC staff were aware of Savile's offending, but she cleared the broadcaster as a corporate body of knowing about it.

Her report states: "In summary, my conclusion is that certain junior and middle-ranking individuals were aware of Savile's inappropriate sexual conduct in connection with his work for the BBC.

"However, I have found no evidence that the BBC, as a corporate body, was aware of Savile's inappropriate sexual conduct in connection with his work for the BBC."

Blackburn, 73, said "all relationships" he had with the BBC were "terminated with immediate effect" this week because his evidence to Dame Janet's review concerning an investigation in 1971 contradicted the BBC's own version of events.

tony blackburn

Tony Blackburn accused the BBC of making him a 'scapegoat'

He has pledged to take legal action against the corporation which he claims is making him a "scapegoat" for the "cover-up" of abuse.

Dame Janet's review looks at the culture and practices at the corporation during the years that Savile and fellow shamed broadcaster Stuart Hall, who has been in prison for sex attacks on under-age girls, worked there.

Savile raped and sexually assaulted 72 people, male and female, in connection with his work at the BBC dating back to 1959, while 21 people fell victim to Hall, 86, whose offending dates back to the 1960s, a report by Dame Linda Dobbs found.

Dame Janet said "Savile and Hall make very sorry reading for the BBC" and that the pair used their fame and charisma to prey on their mainly young victims.

Her report states: "Savile would gratify himself sexually on BBC premises whenever the opportunity arose and I heard of incidents which took place in virtually every one of the BBC premises at which he worked."

This included the BBC Theatre at Shepherd's Bush where Jim'll Fix It and Clunk Click were filmed, Television Centre where Top Of The Pops was filmed, and Broadcasting House.

Eight complaints about Savile's behaviour were made to BBC staff as early as the late 1960s, but each time they were brushed off or not escalated up the chain of command.

dame janet smith

Dame Janet Smith

In late 1989 or early 1990 Savile stuck his hand up a female junior employee's skirt at Television Centre. The woman, referred to as C51, complained to her boss but was told "keep your mouth shut, he is a VIP".

More than a decade earlier, in November 1976, Savile was in front of the rolling cameras presenting Top Of The Pops when he put his hand under the bottom of a member of the audience next to him.

She leapt into the air and later complained to a BBC employee, but her accusation was shrugged off and she was told it was "just Jimmy Savile mucking about".

In the mid-1970s Ian Hampton, bass player with the pop group Sparks, also tried to raise the alarm. He had heard rumours that Savile had sex with under-age girls and spotted him leaving the Top Of The Pops studio with a young girl.

The guitarist alerted a BBC presenter, but was simply told not to be silly, while on another occasion he spoke to producer Robin Nash, but was told not to be ridiculous.


Dame Janet said there was a culture of not reporting complaints at the BBC from the 1970s right the way through to the 1990s, and a fear of saying anything that might "rock the boat".

She warned there was a particular fear of whistleblowing at the corporation and "I was told that an atmosphere of fear still exists today in the BBC".

She added: "As I have said, there was a culture of not complaining about anything. The culture of not complaining about a member of the Talent was even stronger.

"Members of the Talent, such as Savile, were to a real degree protected from complaint.

"The first reason for this is because of a deference or even adulation which was, and still can be, accorded to celebrity in our society. The second reason was because of the attitude within the BBC toward the Talent. The evidence I heard suggested that the Talent was treated with kid gloves and rarely challenged."

She added: "There was a feeling of reverence for them and a fear that, if a star were crossed, he or she might leave the BBC."

She criticised the hierarchy, rivalry and "macho culture" in parts of the BBC, and its complaints procedures.

Fairhead's full statement:

"I am saddened and appalled by the events recounted here and in a few moments I want to address how we will aim to ensure we never allow them to happen again. But our primary thoughts must be with the victims – the survivors of the abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall. Today’s reports lay bare the full horror of what happened to them. Those experiences can never be erased.

"No one reading the reports can be in any doubt that the BBC failed them. It failed, not just them, but the public, its audiences and its staff. It turned a blind eye, where it should have shone a light. And it did not protect those who put their trust in it.

"On behalf of the BBC and its staff past and present, I want to apologise to the survivors for all they have suffered. I also want to commit to them directly, that we will ensure the BBC does everything it possibly can to prevent any such events in the future.

"And I also want to record my thanks. We owe the survivors an enormous debt of gratitude for the courage they have shown in coming forward to share their experiences – their horrific experiences – with the Review team. Their bravery has created a vastly deeper understanding of the issues and I am confident that, from here forward, nothing will be the same.

"We believe that these reports are clear, thorough and authoritative, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to Dame Janet Smith, Dame Linda Dobbs and the review team. We accept the conclusions and recommendations of their reports in their entirety.

"We have published both reports in full and un-redacted. It is transparently in the public interest to do so. The survivors and the public have a right to understand not just what happened, but how it was allowed to happen. Who knew what and why processes failed. And to have the confidence that the BBC is taking all appropriate action.

"We need to restore the public’s trust in the BBC. We need to demonstrate – through our actions – that the BBC’s values are for everyone and non-negotiable. For, as Dame Janet makes clear, these events happened in the past but they raise serious issues that remain relevant and need to be addressed today.

"We fully support Dame Janet’s recommendation that the BBC Executive immediately reviews its policies and procedures on child protection, complaints, whistleblowing, and investigations – and that all of those should also be independently audited and published. It is important that this work also takes account of the variety of working relationships people have with the BBC, from freelancers and occasional contractors through to full time members of staff.

"The plans that Tony Hall has put forward today represent a thorough response to this recommendation. The Trust will work alongside the Executive to ensure that the BBC takes all further steps that it needs to as quickly as it possibly can.

"Dame Janet also makes challenging observations about the BBC’s culture. It is clear that the public expect the BBC to keep to the highest possible standards, but the BBC failed. And Dame Janet finds the status given to celebrities, the BBC’s hierarchical structure and the lack of cohesion between its different departments present unique challenges which must be overcome if serious wrongdoing is to be exposed.

"The cultural change that must take place has to be both substantial and permanent. The BBC must engage fully with its staff, listen to its critics and submit policies and culture to external scrutiny.

"I have discussed this with Tony Hall at length and have no doubt that he is absolutely committed to achieving this.

"He also recognises that for change to be genuine and lasting, it requires the active involvement and support of those working within and around the organisation. The Trust will do whatever it can to help the management achieve this change and, if necessary, to push them to do more or go further. There are long-term and deep-seated issues to tackle, but today’s reports provide a clear impetus to do so urgently and openly. To that end, the Trust will continue to pursue these questions with the DG, taking stock of his progress at each of its monthly meetings for the remainder of the year.

"These events will forever be a source of deep regret and shame. Many people were failed by those who should have protected and supported them. Our commitment to the survivors and to the public is to ensure we do everything possible to prevent this happening again."

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