Review slams BBC over Jimmy Savile report but says no cover-up

Jimmy Savile

The BBC was cleared today of covering up allegations of child sex abuse against its late presenter Jimmy Savile, but an official probe found widespread chaos at the corporation.

The BBC's deputy director of news, Stephen Mitchell, resigned in the fall-out, the broadcaster revealed, a month after the crisis felled BBC Director-General George Entwistle after just 54 days in the job.

Savile, who died last year at the age of 84, was one of the BBC's top television and radio presenters and the allegations of child abuse against him have plunged the corporation into crisis.

Following a television programme by rival ITV two months ago in which several women went public with the claims, police have identified 199 crimes in which Savile is a suspect, including 31 alleged rapes.

The BBC's flagship Newsnight programme began investigating the allegations shortly after Savile's death, but after a few weeks dropped the report.

An official investigation by former Sky News executive Nick Pollard, published today, found no substance to accusations that Newsnight dropped the story because it clashed with BBC Christmas tributes to Savile.

But the probe paints a picture of a corporation dogged by "chaos and confusion", in-fighting and a lack of leadership.

"The decision to drop the original investigation was flawed and the way it was taken was wrong but I believe it was done in good faith. It was not done to protect the Savile tribute programmes or for any improper reason," Pollard said.

He added: "In my view, the most worrying aspect of the Jimmy Savile story for the BBC was not the decision to drop the story itself. It was the complete inability to deal with the events that followed."

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