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Miller in Savile inquiry mix-up
Culture Secretary Maria Miller has been forced to deny she was prejudging a BBC inquiry into Jimmy Savile, after she inadvertently accused the corporation of "inappropriately" pulling a Newsnight film into sex abuse claims against the late DJ and broadcaster.
Aides said that Ms Miller got her words wrong as she made a statement to the House of Commons about investigations being undertaken by the BBC.
A printed version of the speech said that one of the BBC reviews would look into "allegations that an item on Savile was inappropriately pulled from Newsnight", but the Secretary of State in fact told MPs it would address "allegations with regards to the item on Savile which was inappropriately pulled from Newsnight".
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that Ms Miller had no detailed knowledge of the decision to pull the Newsnight package, which was dropped last year shortly before the broadcast of BBC tributes to the former presenter of Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It.
"The Secretary of State has not prejudged the outcome of the BBC's investigation into the pulling of a Newsnight item on Savile," a DCMS spokesman said.
"As the Secretary of State made clear in the House, it is for the BBC, not ministers, to investigate these allegations."
Ms Miller later apologised in a message on Twitter, saying: "Sorry if Savile statement unclear. Referring to 'allegations' that Newsnight item was pulled inappropriately. Not prejudging BBC inquiry."
Speaking to the Commons in response to an urgent question from a Labour backbencher, Ms Miller dismissed calls for an independent inquiry into the scandal, telling MPs she was "confident" BBC chiefs were taking the claims "very seriously".
Police believe the DJ and television presenter's alleged catalogue of child sex abuse could have spanned six decades and included around 60 victims.
Mr Entwistle announced last Friday that two inquiries would be launched into the abuse claims. One will look into whether there were any failings over the handling of the abandoned Newsnight piece. A second independent inquiry will look into the "culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked here", Mr Entwistle said.