21/02/2015 12:33 GMT | Updated 21/02/2015 12:59 GMT

Huw Wheldon And Malcolm Muggeridge, Renowned BBC Broadcasters, Were 'Gropers'

Renowned BBC broadcasters Huw Wheldon and Malcolm Muggeridge were both "gropers", an historian has claimed.

Professor Jean Seaton said powerful men at the corporation in the 1970s and 80s "abused their position" and one unnamed man in a "position of authority was known to proposition younger women, especially secretaries, for spanking sessions".

Prof Seaton spoke with women who worked at the BBC during the period for her book, Pinkoes And Traitors: The BBC And The Nation 1974-1987, and said even "the great Huw Wheldon and the apparently saintly Malcolm Muggeridge both groped incontinently".

Sir Huw Wheldon 'abused' his position

Wheldon, who died in 1986, was a D-day war hero and founded the first TV arts programme Monitor in 1958, while Muggeridge, the renowned author, media personality, and satirist, died in 1990.

Prof Seaton told The Guardian: "Huw Wheldon - a great public service broadcaster, and Malcolm Muggeridge, the anguished voice of dissent of the time - were both gropers.

"Of course so were many other men in most other British institutions then. The term 'sexual harassment' did not even exist to identify the problem until a bunch of academic feminists coined the term in 1974.

'Malcolm Muggeridge groped incontinently'

"Of course nothing excuses the behaviour, but the middle class, aspirant women who were transforming the BBC in the 1970s and 1980s were not damaged by it. Indeed they were on a crusade to stop it."

Prof Seaton's book comes ahead of the publication of Dame Janet Smith's review, which is looking at the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Jimmy Savile worked there.

Savile, a Radio 1 DJ who also presented the BBC's Top Of The Pops and Jim'll Fix It, died aged 84 in October 2011 - a year before allegations that he had sexually abused children were broadcast in ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile.

It is clear in Prof Seaton's book that none of those she mentions were alleged to be child abusers.