BBC Savile inquiry

The BBC's culture created a dangerous situation where Jimmy Savile became too powerful to confront, says Peter Wanless

The Dame Janet Smith Review was established in October 2012 by the BBC to conduct an impartial, thorough and independent review of the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Jimmy Savile worked there. 

In respect of Jimmy Savile, the review will receive evidence from those who may have been the subject of inappropriate sexual conduct by Jimmy Savile in connection with his work for the BBC and from others who may have raised concerns about this conduct with the BBC.

The review is chaired by the former Court of Appeal Judge, Dame Janet Smith DBE. 

Dame Janet Smith's report

Jimmy Savile engendered an aura of fear around him and the BBC culture meant staff felt unable to speak out or dismissed complaints.

He became too powerful to confront and systematically targeted children unchallenged for over 3 decades. The reverence and awe in which celebrities were held, overrode everything else, including child protection. 

BBC must ensure similar scandal of this kind, and that children are protected so that similar scandal never happens again. It's vital that the BBC now addresses any culture that still exists and that would prevent staff speaking out and whistleblowing

Read the full report

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said:

"This report demonstrates just how disturbingly easy at the time it was for Savile to get away, unchallenged, with despicable acts against children at the BBC.

"The impact on his victims has been profound – as we have already witnessed from calls to our helpline.

"It is tragic that a culture existed at the BBC in which Savile became too powerful to confront, so allowing him to use his celebrity status to abuse at will, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake.

"The BBC must ensure staff can easily raise concerns and that robust safeguarding procedures are in place to effectively act on these so that a scandal of this kind, never mind this magnitude, is never repeated.”  

Operation Yewtree

Operation Yewtree, since its launch in 2012, has resulted in the conviction of several high-profile and household names. Prison terms handed down exceed 43 years:

  • Rolf Harris (5 years and 9 months)
  • Max Clifford (8 years)
  • Paul Gadd (16 years)
  • Chris Denning (13 years)
  • Dave Lee Travis (3 months suspended)