Sunday, 14 October 2012

Newsnight, Savile and the DG's real and present danger

I hope that BBC DG George Entwistle’s decision to hold those “internal,independent and forensic” inquiries doesn’t turn out to be his biggest and last as Director General.
Especially the inquiry into Newsnight’s decision to pause its investigation into Surrey police and those allegations that they and/or the Crown Prosecution Service mishandled abuse complaints made against Jimmy Savile.
It’s an inquiry born out of frustration. And it’s easy to see where the frustration comes from.
In spite of the clearest possible denials from all concerned, the suspicion persists that he or another BBC "boss" pressured Newsnight editor Peter Rippon to “pull” a ten or twelve minute film detailing Savile's crimes. 
That's not what happened and, unsurprisingly, there’s never been any evidence that it did. Anyone sane who knows the BBC would have to conclude that Rippon shelved the investigation for sound editorial reasons, not through pressure from above.
Exactly as he and everyone else involved have insisted throughout. Exactly what the Newsnight inquiry will find. 
But that might be the start and not the end of the new DG's real problems. 
Suspicion
Let’s be clear what the suspicion, the allegation, amounts to.
It’s not that Newsnight’s decision to shelve its inquiry was a bad call. Nor that the editor was excessively cautious, influenced by nods or winks or made a decision he thought his bosses wanted with one eye on his career. Though, as it happens, none of that's true either.
Here’s how the Daily Mail, put it: 
“A Newsnight report was due to be screened in December, two months after Savile's death, but was pulled by bosses … attempting to cover up the allegations in an effort to protect (the BBC’s) own reputation.” (My emphasis)
OK?
Once more just to make sure; the important bits anyway: “ …pulled by bosses … attempting to cover up the allegations in an effort to protect (the BBC’s) reputation”.
Got it?
Tabloid priorities
Now, it’s worth saying from the outset that the very tabloids and journalists who've frothed over ‘what must have happened’ at the BBC signally failed even to contemplate let alone launch any investigation of their own into Savile.
If the public record is anything to go by, only one tabloid editor, Paul Connew, ever had the courage  to go after Savile and to explain why nothing came of it.
When he was editor of the Sunday Mirror, he wanted to publish the “credible and convincing” testimony of two of Savile’s victims but was lawyered out.
That was back in 1994 since when, apparently, no other tabloid editor ever lifted a finger to investigate the rumours that were rife in what we used to call Fleet Street. Presumably they were all too busy hacking phones, libelling the McCann family, lynching Chris Jeffries, entrapping the witless and stalking nineteen year old girls
Not even when Savile had died and the risk of libel had passed away with him was there any flicker of interest from the press. Were their safes not full of witness testimony waiting for their briefs' green lights? Apparently not.
Instead, just as Newsnight was ramping up its investigation, the same tabloids that have been spitting outrage at the BBC in the last week were lionising Savile, much as they had during his lifetime, re-running the kind of uncritical profiles that had done as much as anything at the BBC to elevate him to the ‘national treasure’ status he used so effectively to enable and shield his abuse of young women.*
Editorial decisions
The Newsnight investigation was not as the press coverage over the past week or so has portrayed it. Almost every assumption that's been made about it is wrong.
** Update 22/12/12: in the light of the BBC's statement this morning, it's clear that the conversations, statements and accounts on which I based this blog were not complete.** 
For instance, the Newsnight investigation was never into Savile’s criminally abusive activities per se. It was triggered by the charge that Surrey police had dropped a 2007 investigation into 40 year old abuse allegations because Savile, by then, was too old and frail.
Nor was there ever a cut, ten minute or - depending on your reading choice - twelve minute film ready to go that was "pulled". When the Newsnight editor paused the investigation, it was still at the evidence gathering stage ... evidence he was beginning to have doubts about.
In other words, there was nothing to "pull" - there was an investigation in progress and it had hit a brick wall.
There was no script, even, in spite of what's been reported in the press. There was a 'wish list', an ideal script that set out what the investigating team hoped to be able to prove. But it was a catalogue of aspirations some distance beyond what could be supported by the evidence anyone had actually gathered. It's normal, incidentally, to have a wish list like that - something that everyone can work from that sets out what you'd need to be able to prove to get an investigation on air.
There was little more, in fact, than the rushes of one interview with the investigation's 'star' witness/victim, Karin Ward, and a clutch of telephone conversations with other women apparently echoing her allegations.
One was with 'Fiona' who went on to give evidence to the ITV expose.
'Fiona' claimed to have a letter from Surrey police setting out how they’d decided not to pursue her allegations against Savile because of his age and frailty. It would have been crucial corroboration but, in spite of several requests, she failed ever to produce it to the Newsnight team. The Mail on Sunday has now reported evidence that the letter is a "fake".
There were other question marks, too, over the 'corroborating' testimony. How it had been gathered and whether the women's connections via a social networking site had had any influence on their testimony, serious and credible though it seemed to be.
Denials
But there was more.
When the programme put the allegation to the Crown Prosecution Service - that Surrey police had dropped their investigation because of Savile's age and frailty - they denied it point blank.
The CPS said that one of their lawyers had reviewed the Surrey police investigation and advised them to take no further action because of “lack of evidence”.
They told Newsnight that:
"As this is the case, it would not be correct to say that his age and frailty was the reason for no further action being taken."
There was nowhere for the investigation to go - certainly not in the time before the programme came off-air for its Christmas break.
But it was neither "pulled" nor "dropped". It was paused, shelved for sound editorial reasons and those alone. And without pressure, direct or subtle, from above.
Danger
The danger for the DG is that the Newsnight inquiry will establish exactly all of this ... and to the satisfaction of all but the most eye-swivelling.
Danger, too, that it will show exactly what Entwistle has insisted all along. That as Head of BBC Vision and responsible for the network planning to run the Savile tributes, he had only a vague awareness of the Newsnight inquiry. That he, quite understandably, kept at arms length from what was happening in another BBC division ... precisely to avoid allegations of interference.  
That will turn the Newsnight question on its head.
From ‘why did Newsnight shelve its investigation?’ to ‘why didn’t the Head of Vision shelve the tributes once he knew that a BBC programme – or indeed any other part of the media – was finally investigating Savile?’
That's the real and present danger to the BBC and to its DG.

*Update: I'm grateful for a tip from Richard Fletcher, the editor of Telegraph.co.uk, pointing up an article in The Lawyer back in 2008 which reported that Savile began legal action against The Sun after articles linking him with Haut de Garenne, the Jersey children's home.
According to The Lawyer, The Sun carried a photograph of Savile allegedly visiting Haut de Garenne and followed it with "a series of articles. One asserted that Savile was unwilling to assist with the police investigation and another that he admitted having visited the home". 
The Sun also criticised Savile for being unprepared to “go some way to fixing it for the victims”.
I agree that this makes The Sun's post-mortem tributes to Savile even more extraordinary.
  

37 comments:

Charles Frith said...

I appreciate the post direction but the uncomfortable reality is that powerful elites were protecting Savile and that he procured children for them. Any other story dilutes the urgency of this.

Terry said...

And your evidence is?

david leigh said...

The purported link does NOT go to any Mail on Sunday story about a 'fake' letter, as claimed.

Gaspard Winckler said...

The correct link for the Mail 'fake letter' story is http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217352/Jimmy-Savile-scandal-Fake-letter-cast-doubt-victims-claims-played-key-role-BBC-decision.html

Kevin Marsh said...

Apologies for the duff link ... I hope I've now put it right.

Darcy said...

Hi Kevin

Glad you've blogged on this subject. I'm currently reading your book. Having seen you on Newsnight, I'm having trouble reconciling the bit in which you receive a telephone call, at home, from a BBC executive, with the perceived notion that it's not possible that anyone 'leaned' on Mr. Rippon because it's not the way of the BBC. I've taken the liberty to reproduce the passage at the link below in case anyone hasn't read it.

http://www.bbclocalradioforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=532.msg2983#msg2983

It happened to you, so why not anyone else?

Kevin Marsh said...

Hi Darcy,
But you'll recall from my book that the 'leaning' became perpendicular again pretty sharpish ... I write about it in the book because it was unprecedented and nothing like it ever happened to me again, precisely because the BBC just doesn't work like that.
I'm confident, based on the many conversations I've had, that there was no improper pressure ... just as everyone from the Chairman down has said.

Darcy said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for replying. And yes I included that bit in my reproduction for completeness!

Let's be honest here, unless you believe that the occasion on which it happened to you was the one and only time it's ever happened in the BBC's 90 year history, it's slightly difficult to say 'the BBC just doesn't work like that' and for it to not sound rather contrived. It only has to happen once to anyone at the BBC, although ironically in this case you are the single source!

Personally, I'm very sad for the children, now adults involved in these terrible events and the truth for their sake should be the first consideration in all of this.

There are of course a myriad of agendas possibly at work here and we will see what they are as the storm unfolds.

I think you are quite correct in the dangers you outline for George Entwistle and the BBC, of course those questions will be asked and they should be asked.

Given that the Executive and the Trust have seemingly handled this case with all the aplomb of a night watchman in a rake factory during a power cut, it is hardly surprising that they now find themselves in a very sad situation.

Kevin Marsh said...

Hi Darcy,
I will have to plagiarise your line "the aplomb of a night watchman in a rake factory during a power cut" - so apologies in advance.
And I couldn't agree more that no-one should blind themselves to the real victims - and real culprit - here. It's awful for those who've suffered. We can't imagine just how awful.
I was struck by one of Savile's victims interviewed last week who could hardly bring herself to use the words to describe what had happened. That really hit home.
You're right, too, that we'll learn a lot as the whole thing unfolds - I feel awkward, if I'm honest, focusing on such a narrow part of this whole thing.
All I can do is offer my thoughts on what almost certainly happened in the case of the Newsnight investigation, based on the conversations I've had with those in a position to know and what I know from thirty odd years at the BBC.
I don't agree, I'm afraid, that it's contrived to say 'the BBC doesn't work like that'. Indeed, one of the more frequent criticisms of the BBC is that it's not very good at 'joining the dots' - that's to say, one bit of the empire is at best vague about the other bits ... and the vaguest of all is the emperor.
There are many reasons I'm confident the Newsnight editor wasn't leaned on improperly as the press has claimed ... that 'the BBC doesn't work like that' is only one of them - but a powerful one.
I understand your scepticism - were our positions reversed, I'd be sceptical, too.
Paradoxically, scepticism - 'that can't possibly be true about Jimmy Savile, can it?' - might well have been a factor in the whole, damn mess.

Tamsin said...

Dear Kevin,

I understand your journalistic integrity. David Kelly/ Hutton was a one off
and it could be said that you were on the accusers bench.

This time you are appearing for the defendant. I feel very uncomfortable
that in your blog you are attacking the tabloids, and I am sorry to say
rather grubbily attempting to discredit one of the early victims as an
excuse to cast doubt on what must have been very difficult testimony, and
surely if one victim in the hope that this would be aired exaggerated her
case to suit a BBC agenda that is quite understandable.

It should be irrelevant, when anyone stumbles upon a truth, whatever their
original path was ,they need to act and act with humanity and
responsibility. That means no shelving no dismissal no worry about Xmas
schedules and the Olympics.

I am sure , completely, of what happened it is so obvious to most on the
outside.

And the BBC must be honest, it has to be trusted, and it does no good to
wave a flag saying the importance of journalist freedom is absolutely
paramount and no one took a wider view? It is not plausible and will now
probably threaten, because of the inquiries exactly that freedom, because no
one is going to recognise and admit the truth.


Tamsin.

I am sorry for my strong words.

Tamsin said...

Dear Kevin,

I understand your journalistic integrity. David Kelly/ Hutton was a one off
and it could be said that you were on the accusers bench.

This time you are appearing for the defendant. I feel very uncomfortable
that in your blog you are attacking the tabloids, and I am sorry to say
rather grubbily attempting to discredit one of the early victims as an
excuse to cast doubt on what must have been very difficult testimony, and
surely if one victim in the hope that this would be aired exaggerated her
case to suit a BBC agenda that is quite understandable.

It should be irrelevant, when anyone stumbles upon a truth, whatever their
original path was ,they need to act and act with humanity and
responsibility. That means no shelving no dismissal no worry about Xmas
schedules and the Olympics.

I am sure , completely, of what happened it is so obvious to most on the
outside.

And the BBC must be honest, it has to be trusted, and it does no good to
wave a flag saying the importance of journalist freedom is absolutely
paramount and no one took a wider view? It is not plausible and will now
probably threaten, because of the inquiries exactly that freedom, because no
one is going to recognise and admit the truth.

Tamsin said...

I note that you have removed my comment twice. I am really sorry if I offended you. But I think that if you are going to post such a defence of Newsnight in your blog, that it would be fair to expect a response such as mine, and perhaps have the respect to publish it?


I have published my post on my forum.


Tamsin.

newsmutt said...

It's refreshing to hear the perspective of someone who has not only been there and done that - in terms of the BBC - but also robustly defends its journalism and integrity.

I too can well understand the scepticism from those on the outside, and that it's easy to draw conclusions from opinons based on events of the past couple of weeks.

Maria Miller said yesterday that she wanted to find out IF the Newsnight report was "inappropriately" shelved. I honestly don't think she'll find any evidence to support that claim.

BUT I would also add that these inquiries must be allowed to run their course. Having a healthy debate around that is fine - but there are some forums where it seems any logical debate is seriously stifled by the blinkered views of those running them.

Ad Absurdem said...

Agree about the lack of conspiracy but disagree about the 'sound editorial decision'. Astonishing that it was shelved as opposed to being investigated further or being passed on, most obviously to Panorama. It's a cracking story after all - the expose of the decade.

Ad Absurdem said...

Agree about the lack of conspiracy but disagree about the 'sound editorial decision'. Astonishing that it was shelved as opposed to being investigated further or being passed on, most obviously to Panorama. It's a cracking story after all - the expose of the decade.

Kevin Marsh said...

Hi Tamsin,
Apologies ... for some reason your comments ended up in the Spam file ... not my doing, I assure you, but now they're restored.
I made my comments about the tabloids because the very papers now bashing the BBC over Savile were complici in raising him to something like sainthood and signally failed to expose him during his life or even after his death when the risk of libel was no more.
I should say, too, that I'm not attempting to cast doubt on any of Savile's victims - I can't imagine how difficult it must be for those harmed to have to stir these memories.
My point is a different one - as an editor, and especially as a BBC editor, you have to be very, very sure indeed about the testimony you broadcast. However persuasive and convincing you find it, you have to be certain it will stand up to scrutiny, sometimes (though not in this case, of course) in court - and that means being hard-headed about it.
As I understand it, the editor of Newsnight wasn't as as sure as he felt he needed to be in order to broadcast what would have been exceptionally serious allegations.
I absolutely agree that responsibility and humanity are essential - but remember, the allegation against the BBC here is that it "pulled" its Newsnight investigation because of pressure from the top.
Based on all the conversations I've had over the past week or so, I don't believe that's true.
I so agree the BBC has to be honest - and I'm sure you will understand how frustrating it can be for those of us who've worked inside the organisation for many years when we try to explain how decisions are made only to find those explanations dismissed.
I don't argue that all the right decisions were made all the way along the line here - but what I am certain about is that they were all made in good faith.

Tamsin said...

Thankyou , Kevin.

I do understand what you are saying, and what you are saying sums up the
journalistic integrity of the BBC, and why it must be protected against the
odds and against it's opposers to provide a truth that can be trusted
without qualification.


BUT, I have problems with accepting that in this case.


My concern would be that it is being posed that the Newsnight editor was put
under severe pressure and dramatic language is used to suggest that it was
pulled in a bullying way.


I absolutely believe that was not the case. But I do believe that BBC
managers were faced with a terrible problem and if Helen Boaden had to
inform George Entwistle that there was a Newsnight investigation, that must
have meant that he was being informed for a reason and that has to be about
the scheduling of the Tribute shows.. This is not about the Head of Vision
interfering, he was asked to interfere?


So no, it is not about the program being pulled, but it is about some sort
of consensus.in management that it would not be shown and the schedule for
tributes would go ahead. With the knowledge that there was a strong reason
to believe that Savile was a sex offender.


I also understand that there may be doubts about the credibility of one
witness, in which case that needs further thought, but it should not take 11
months, and then only be reported when ITV and Mr Williams Thomas acted?
That makes no moral sense to me.


I understand about chinese walls, but if you put them up when the grounds
are overwhelming against that, then they become brick walls.


And brick walls don't listen, they are only concerned with protecting what
lies within, and in this case, possibly the exposure of the truth.


I heard a young man on 5 Live today and he summed it up perfectly. The BBC
was his default station for the truth and he respects the vast majority of
wonderful staff and programs within it. But, he said, just like the banks
etc, he feared that the whole institution would be at risk because of a few
in senior management. And he was having to re consider. I have to agree with
him and when this story broke and Eddie Mair trailed it as appearing on PM
as the second item, suddenly it ended up squeezed into the last 5 minutes,
because of technical problems. Very uncomfortable. And from that point I
felt that for the first time ever I may have to go elsewhere for coverage.


Sorry for length of post,

Tamsin

Tamsin said...

Seems that you are having further technical problems? Have posted my response on an open forum.

newsmutt said...

It's absolutely right that a former BBC Editor speaks out to defend the Corporation at a time when it's under attack from the usual suspects. The press are having a field day and it's easy to draw wholly the wrong conclusion from some of the fabricated nonsense being printed.

I think what Tamsin has failed to appreciate is how damaging it can be to have one's entire profession continually attacked by others who happen to work in the same trade.

Many people inside the BBC cannot afford to speak out in the way that Kevin has. Good on him.

Tamsin said...

I only wish Newsmutt had seen my reply, it seems to have vanished?

It is here. again.

Tamsin has left a new comment on the post "Newsnight, Savile and the DG's real and present da...":

Thankyou , Kevin.

I do understand what you are saying, and what you are saying sums up the
journalistic integrity of the BBC, and why it must be protected against the
odds and against it's opposers to provide a truth that can be trusted
without qualification.


BUT, I have problems with accepting that in this case.


My concern would be that it is being posed that the Newsnight editor was put
under severe pressure and dramatic language is used to suggest that it was
pulled in a bullying way.


I absolutely believe that was not the case. But I do believe that BBC
managers were faced with a terrible problem and if Helen Boaden had to
inform George Entwistle that there was a Newsnight investigation, that must
have meant that he was being informed for a reason and that has to be about
the scheduling of the Tribute shows.. This is not about the Head of Vision
interfering, he was asked to interfere?


So no, it is not about the program being pulled, but it is about some sort
of consensus.in management that it would not be shown and the schedule for
tributes would go ahead. With the knowledge that there was a strong reason
to believe that Savile was a sex offender.


I also understand that there may be doubts about the credibility of one
witness, in which case that needs further thought, but it should not take 11
months, and then only be reported when ITV and Mr Williams Thomas acted?
That makes no moral sense to me.


I understand about chinese walls, but if you put them up when the grounds
are overwhelming against that, then they become brick walls.


And brick walls don't listen, they are only concerned with protecting what
lies within, and in this case, possibly the exposure of the truth.


I heard a young man on 5 Live today and he summed it up perfectly. The BBC
was his default station for the truth and he respects the vast majority of
wonderful staff and programs within it. But, he said, just like the banks
etc, he feared that the whole institution would be at risk because of a few
in senior management. And he was having to re consider. I have to agree with
him and when this story broke and Eddie Mair trailed it as appearing on PM
as the second item, suddenly it ended up squeezed into the last 5 minutes,
because of technical problems. Very uncomfortable. And from that point I
felt that for the first time ever I may have to go elsewhere for coverage.


Sorry for length of post,

Tamsin
PS I am concerned that this is a technical problem and have updated google to show that my posting ability is working?

Tamsin said...

Oh yes it is, have just had email. So is not a technical problem then

Tamsin said...

I find it incredibly depressing that you have to censure my comments. I am shocked, in fact. and I have read your book and thought it was valuable, when I came in with my baby and toddler one afternoon and then heard on the news that David Kelly had died alone in his woods, I cried and felt that for my sons sake there should never be an obscuring of the truth and those who wanted to tell it. And that those bullies who stop that and disfigure it and put themselves forward as honourable people and then stamp on those that disagree with them do indeed exist and must be challenged for the sake of all good people like David Kelly and the rest of us.

I hope you are the Kevin Marsh I thought that you were.

Darcy said...

The press are having a field day due in no small part to the actions some in BBC management and the Trust. Having had 10 months to prepare for what was inevitably going to happen it seems they must a consulted their Editorial Guidedog and it suggested lodging their heads as firmly into the nearest patch of sand as possible. Sadly, that sand has turned out to be Quick.

I don't think Tamsin has failed to appreciate that. I believe the position BBC staff find themselves in is a direct result of the above. However, if any of them are feeling sorry for themselves they can spend a few moments reflecting on the plight of the young victims and what they may have had to endure over the years and perhaps that will give them a bit of perspective.

Perhaps you could give an example of such fabrications?

newsmutt said...

Darcy, I think Kevin has made it quite clear that nothing can be more important than the terrible events suffered by the victims in all of this. But as you well know, the BBC and its entire staff are an easy target for the printed press. Kevin has also provided a relevant, timely example of the Newsnight "script" which never even existed.

Having had some experience of TV current affairs production, I've drafted plenty of story plans which would be the "ideal" - if all the elements come together in the right order. Inevitably, not every element works exactly as one would like it to.

I'm pretty certain that if you walked into any large newspaper office, you'd find similar drafts of stories on journalist's computers. Some become front page news, others may never see the light of day.

The difference is, generally, that broadcasters don't run stories on these drafts.

newsmutt said...

Additionally, using language like "Editorial Guidedog" isn't exactly adding any credibility to your style of debating. Not for the first time, you are shooting the messenger.

Tamsin said...

I wonder if my second comment could be published. I am being discussed, I understand how you felt now when you were discussed at Hutton, but were never called?

It is here again.

Tamsin has left a new comment on the post "Newsnight, Savile and the DG's real and present da...":

I only wish Newsmutt had seen my reply, it seems to have vanished?

It is here. again.

Tamsin has left a new comment on the post "Newsnight, Savile and the DG's real and present da...":

Thankyou , Kevin.

I do understand what you are saying, and what you are saying sums up the
journalistic integrity of the BBC, and why it must be protected against the
odds and against it's opposers to provide a truth that can be trusted
without qualification.


BUT, I have problems with accepting that in this case.


My concern would be that it is being posed that the Newsnight editor was put
under severe pressure and dramatic language is used to suggest that it was
pulled in a bullying way.


I absolutely believe that was not the case. But I do believe that BBC
managers were faced with a terrible problem and if Helen Boaden had to
inform George Entwistle that there was a Newsnight investigation, that must
have meant that he was being informed for a reason and that has to be about
the scheduling of the Tribute shows.. This is not about the Head of Vision
interfering, he was asked to interfere?


So no, it is not about the program being pulled, but it is about some sort
of consensus.in management that it would not be shown and the schedule for
tributes would go ahead. With the knowledge that there was a strong reason
to believe that Savile was a sex offender.


I also understand that there may be doubts about the credibility of one
witness, in which case that needs further thought, but it should not take 11
months, and then only be reported when ITV and Mr Williams Thomas acted?
That makes no moral sense to me.


I understand about chinese walls, but if you put them up when the grounds
are overwhelming against that, then they become brick walls.


And brick walls don't listen, they are only concerned with protecting what
lies within, and in this case, possibly the exposure of the truth.


I heard a young man on 5 Live today and he summed it up perfectly. The BBC
was his default station for the truth and he respects the vast majority of
wonderful staff and programs within it. But, he said, just like the banks
etc, he feared that the whole institution would be at risk because of a few
in senior management. And he was having to re consider. I have to agree with
him and when this story broke and Eddie Mair trailed it as appearing on PM
as the second item, suddenly it ended up squeezed into the last 5 minutes,
because of technical problems. Very uncomfortable. And from that point I
felt that for the first time ever I may have to go elsewhere for coverage.


Sorry for length of post,

Tamsin

Darcy said...

I'm sorry, it's my style and I'm sticking with it. Although I don't seem to be making myself clear. My Guidedog remark was not aimed at the decision that the Newsnight editor took, more a reference to the way things were handled afterwards.

Believe me, after concern for the victims, my next is for the BBC and the damage that may be done to it as this continues to unfold.

Darcy said...

Hi Kevin, as you have yet to sort out your over zealous spam filter, I'm taking the liberty of delivering Tamsin's reply for her.

"Thankyou , Kevin.

I do understand what you are saying, and what you are saying sums up the journalistic integrity of the BBC, and why it must be protected against the odds and against it's opposers to provide a truth that can be trusted without qualification.

BUT, I have problems with accepting that in this case.

My concern would be that it is being posed that the Newsnight editor was put under severe pressure and dramatic language is used to suggest that it was pulled in a bullying way.

I absolutely believe that was not the case. But I do believe that BBC managers were faced with a terrible problem and if Helen Boaden had to inform George Entwistle that there was a Newsnight investigation, that must have meant that he was being informed for a reason and that has to be about the scheduling of the Tribute shows.. This is not about the Head of Vision interfering, he was asked to interfere?

So no, it is not about the program being pulled, but it is about some sort of consensus.in management that it would not be shown and the schedule for tributes would go ahead. With the knowledge that there was a strong reason to believe that Savile was a sex offender.

I also understand that there may be doubts about the credibility of one witness, in which case that needs further thought, but it should not take 11 months, and then only be reported when ITV and Mr Williams Thomas acted? That makes no moral sense to me.

I understand about chinese walls, but if you put them up when the grounds are overwhelming against that, then they become brick walls.

And brick walls don't listen, they are only concerned with protecting what lies within, and in this case, possibly the exposure of the truth.

I heard a young man on 5 Live today and he summed it up perfectly. The BBC was his default station for the truth and he respects the vast majority of wonderful staff and programs within it. But, he said, just like the banks etc, he feared that the whole institution would be at risk because of a few in senior management. And he was having to re consider. I have to agree with him and when this story broke and Eddie Mair trailed it as appearing on PM as the second item, suddenly it ended up squeezed into the last 5 minutes, because of technical problems. Very uncomfortable. And from that point I felt that for the first time ever I may have to go elsewhere for coverage.

Sorry for length of post,"

Kevin Marsh said...

Hi Darcy,
I'm afraid you'll have to take the limitations of my spam filter up with Mr Google - I've adjusted all the settings I can.
I will, of course, make sure Tamsin's comment gets posted and will respond.

Kevin Marsh said...

Hi Tamsin,
Thanks for your comment - I couldn't agree with you more that the integrity of the BBC is very important. As is the appearance of integrity.
Obviously few people know what conversations Helen Boaden and George Entwistle had - presumably one of the many inquiries will take a look at that.
I've spoken to many people and have come to the conclusion that the investigation was shelved because the editor of the programme wasn't convinced the material his team had met the BBC's higher standards of proof.
I agree with you about how chinese walls can turn into bricks and, without stretching the metaphor too far, can even fall on you.
My hunch here - and it IS only a hunch - is that people might have ended up doing 'the wrong thing' for the right reasons.
The problem is that once events are in the past and hindsight kicks in, it becomes obvious what could or should have happened ... though even then, there are many different perspectives. Very few of them, though, ever see events how they appeared at the time.

newsmutt said...

I also think it would be helpful if Tamsin had the dignity and respect to publish Kevin's responses on her own Forum. At the moment it all appears to be rather one sided.

Tamsin said...

Newsmutt, we have published links to Kevin's blog, we also have reported the news today . I apologise to Kevin, but perhaps you would like to report the contra view on your own twitter , or even here, let us here it for balance?

newsmutt said...

I have made my views quite clear in this comments section, and have nothing to add. Savile's crimes are being used to wage a witch hunt against the BBC.

Darcy said...

NEWSFLASH for Newsmutt: The Earth is round.

Amadán said...

Hi Kevin,
As a "former" BBC editor what exactly is your interest in defending of the organisation on Newsnight and Panorama?
What exclusive evidence do you have for saying
"That's not what happened" in relation to pressure on Peter Rippon from above, which is described by his Newsnight colleagues?

Your blog, questioning the sanity of anyone who believes such reports and slinging mud at tabloids who also failed to report the story reads like a Jesuitical defense of Catholic Bishops who knew nothing of the activities of Paedophile priests.

I do not believe the BBC bosses would have quashed the Newsnight investigation merely to protect the scheduled Saville tributes for Xmas 2011. They had far more compelling reasons; to cover up the BBC's own facillitation of child sex abuse on their premises by Saville and others and the blind eyes and deaf ears they turned for years.

All institutional abuse cases show that when a predatory paedophile acts with the impugnity afforded Sir Jimmy Saville, it is with the protection and connivance of powerful individuals in those institutions.

If you are truly a news man with a desire for the truth to come out, you will keep your council until the investiagtion is complete.
This is only beginning.

newsmutt said...

Amadan

I can only really agree with your last sentence. But realistically, it's a bit late for that isn't it? Aside from the DG's evidence today and the BBC's own coverage, there's been little else than a surreal reality show which we might as well call Blame Factor. Some, in particular, have sought to discredit perfectly reasonably held views by the likes of Kevin Marsh and Mark Damazar.

Once again, hindsight is a wonderful thing. We are now told that Peter Ripppon's blog was inaccurate - a deeply concerning thing for anyone working in journalism, myself included.

But I think what Kevin is saying here - and he said on Channel Four News last night - is that in the case of Newsnight, the "wrong things" were done for "the right reasons". To put it simply, there was no conspiracy here, no explicit intent to deceive.

Doubtless I'll be shot down in flames for that. All I'd offer is that my opinion - for it is ONLY that (and not that of my employers) - is given in good faith.

Kevin Marsh said...

Hi Amadan,
I'm sorry that you felt the need to write in such strong terms.
If you spend 30+ years in an institution like the BBC, you do get to know how it works.
It's a long way from perfect - and that's one reason why conspiracies, like the one you hint at here, never happen.
I think that if you have evidence that the BBC facilitated child sex abuse on their premises you should give it to the police.
Otherwise, perhaps you might follow your own advice?