Dame Janet’s highly critical report on the BBC’s handling of Jimmy Savile leaked to me pinpoints very serious issues at the Corporation which are still not resolved.
The official response from Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC, that this was a dark day for the BBC and it is all in the past does not wash.
Nor frankly does Dame Janet Smith’s plea to ignore this “early” draft. All the evidence from people was taken before it was compiled and she has said she has not changed her conclusions. So will she rewrite it now?
Her draft report is not a whitewash. It is a closely argued analysis revealing a culture that allowed considerable sex abuse to flourish at ground floor level without a mechanism to report this to the top. This does not seem to have changed and has conveniently let all the BBC’s top executives off the hook.
It reveals a crass deferential attitude to celebrities – who could do anything they liked because they were ” untouchable” and people looked the other way. This is no different today – given the present cult of celebrity.
It also reveals an organisation that is more concerned with its public reputation that tackling the root of the problem- how to stamp out opportunities for sexual abuse.
Not only were under age adolescents and children the victims of sexual abuse but so were staff employed by the BBC – who did not complain because they wanted to keep their jobs.
And if anyone complained it seemed the BBC was woefully inadequate in investigating what happened – if it did indeed want to get to the real truth. That failure extended to its own investigations into the issue by its own investigative journalists who found their work dropped or sidelined.
When the BBC does publish the report it will have a lot of explaining to do. On the central issue of child sex abuse Dame Janet concludes that there could still be a paedophile lurking in the BBC and thinks the chance of this being exposed is now worse than then – because many people are on short term contracts and would worry if they could work again.
Her findings directly contradict a report commissioned by the BBC last year from the firm Good Corporation which praises the BBC’s policies in preventing a repeat of child sex abuse. Which is right?
Also it is still clear the whistleblowing process at the BBC, is, at best, not properly promoted ( say the Good Corporation) or worse, virtually non existent ( says Dame Janet’s review).
So I don’t think anyone should be fobbed off by complacent attitudes from the BBC and attempts to move the debate to the dim and distant past,. The BBC failed a group of survivors of sexual abuse by doing nothing then – and could be doing the same now.