BBC to launch two Savile inquiries

Salisbury Journal: A string of police forces have received complaints about Sir Jimmy Savile A string of police forces have received complaints about Sir Jimmy Savile

BBC director-general George Entwistle has offered a "profound and heartfelt apology" to the alleged victims of Sir Jimmy Savile's sexual abuse as he announced that two inquiries would be launched.

One will look into whether there were any failings over the handling of an abandoned Newsnight investigation into the late DJ and broadcaster. A second independent inquiry will look into the "culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked here", Mr Entwistle said.

Of that, he said: "It will examine whether that culture and those practices allowed him or others to carry out the sexual abuse of children. It will also examine whether the BBC's child protection, whistle-blowing and bullying and harassment policies and practices are now fit for purpose."

Speaking at a press conference at New Broadcasting House in central London today, Mr Entwistle said: "As the director-general of the BBC I have made clear my revulsion at the thought that these criminal assaults were carried out by someone employed by the BBC and that some may have happened on BBC premises as well as, we now discover, in hospitals and other institutions across the UK.

"I have one thing to repeat - that is a profound and heartfelt apology on behalf of the BBC to every victim. It is the victims, these women who were subject to criminal actions, who must be central in our thoughts."

Since ITV screened a documentary in which five women alleged they had been abused, new claims about Savile's predatory behaviour have emerged on a daily basis. Scotland Yard is now pursuing 340 lines of inquiry in the Savile abuse case involving 40 potential victims, the force revealed today.

So far 12 allegations of sexual offences have been officially recorded but this number is increasing, Scotland Yard said. Metropolitan Police detectives are in contact with 14 other forces as the number of allegations against the former DJ continues to rise.

Mr Entwistle said he wanted to ensure "nothing of this kind could ever happen again at the BBC" as he revealed two "independent figures" would lead the inquiries. They will be commissioned by the BBC Executive Board, which is chaired by Dame Fiona Reynolds.

One inquiry would examine the "culture and practices" at the BBC in the years Savile worked for the corporation, to consider whether this allowed the presenter to sexually abuse children. The independent chair of this review will be assisted by an expert in the safeguarding of children, Mr Entwistle said.

Another inquiry would look at whether there were any failings in the BBC management in the decision not to air the Newsnight investigation, he added.

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