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BBC Scandal Exposes Cover-Up of Host Jimmy Savile’s Pedophilia, Fueling Public Broadcaster’s Foes

The latest on the media scandal engulfing the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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AMY GOODMAN: Wait, explain that again, Tim. Explain how it was, you think—I mean, this most recent explosive—

TIM GOPSILL: Well, Helen Boaden and Stephen Mitchell, who were suspended pending the investigation into the Savile program, suspended from having anything to do with any more programs relating to Savile or pedophilia—the program then made another completely different story, which was about this politician accused of pedophilia, and the proper checks weren’t there, because they’d been suspended. So it got on air when it shouldn’t have done.

AMY GOODMAN: And the way that this unfolded was that the young man who was at the center of the allegations was never shown a photograph of this politician; when he was, after it aired, he said, "This is not the man who abused me"?

TIM GOPSILL: And on top of that, even worse, the program makers didn’t contact the politician themselves to just even raise comment or to tell him—tell him that they were making the story. This is stuff that was alleged to have happened—well, it did happen 20 years ago, though obviously with other people. But they didn’t even check that. That was probably the biggest thing of all. It would have fallen down immediately.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to excerpts of a BBC Panorama special, which reveal how Newsnight journalists disagreed with editor Peter Rippon’s decision to ax their investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by the late BBChost Jimmy Savile. This is Newsnight producer Meirion Jones and reporter Liz MacKean.

MEIRION JONES: We weren’t asked to find more evidence or anything like that. We weren’t asked to get more people on camera. We were told to stop working on the story.

LIZ MACKEAN: The story we were investigating was very clear-cut. It was about Jimmy Savile being a pedophile and abusing his position, using his status as a charity fundraiser and television personality to get access to places where there were vulnerable teenage girls who he would abuse.

MEIRION JONES: I was sure the story would come out one way or another, and that if it did, the BBC would be accused of cover-up. In fact, I wrote an email to Peter saying, "The story is strong enough. And the danger of not running it is substantial damage to BBC reputation."

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Newsnight producer Meirion Jones and reporter Liz MacKean. Lark Turner, you’ve been researching this for quite some time. Jimmy Savile not only went after kids at schools that were honoring him and that he had free rein in, but he went after people, young people, within the BBC. Is that right?

LARK TURNER: [inaudible] do, allegedly, obviously, is take these girls, you know, the girls who would go along with it the most, from Duncroft, which is the school where Deborah attended, and then take them to his show and have them on his show. And so then they would be in his dressing room. And that is how—you know, that’s how the BBC is implicated as far as that goes.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Coleen Nolan, an English singer and television presenter. She was also the youngest member of the girl music group, The Nolans, in which she sang alongside her sisters. Coleen met Jimmy Savile during a Top of the Pops performance in 1979, when she was just 14 years old. She has now come forward saying Savile invited her to his hotel room, but her sisters stopped her from going. Coleen also said Savile was, quote, "all over" her.

NARRATOR: ...made it onto Top of the Pops, only to encounter the corporation’s eccentric uncle.

COLEEN NOLAN: I stood next to Jimmy Savile. And I was 14, and he was all over me.

JIMMY SAVILE: Ladies and gentlemen, there are more Nolans than meet the eye.

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