The BBC confirmed to me this morning that the Newsnight ‘Savile’ producer, Meirion Jones, pitched his investigation to Panorama on the same day he pitched it to Newsnight.
The BBC says that in a short, five or six line email to the Panorama editor Tom Giles on 31 October 2011 - two days after Jimmy Savile had died - Jones wrote that he believed he could gather evidence of Savile’s abuse at the Duncroft Home where his aunt had been headmistress.
The email to Giles was, as he later explained, "to keep his options open”.
Jones had already had one meeting with the Panorama editor to talk in general terms about the possibility of working on longer investigations. And they were due to meet again – but after Newsnight editor Peter Rippon had given Jones and reporter Liz MacKean the green light to start collecting evidence, that meeting never happened.
There was no further contact between the Panorama editor and Jones until pre-programme publicity for the ITV programme Exposure:the other side of Jimmy Savile began to appear in the press. There is no suggestion that Giles looked at any of the evidence gathered for Newsnight nor that he was aware of the detail of the investigation.
On Tuesday, BBC Director General George Entwistle told MPs: "we do have to address this question of what comes of journalism that doesn't necessarily result in immediate output".
It's likely that former Sky News executive Nick Pollard will want to know why, when Newsnight producer Jones had an ‘open channel’ to Panorama, he and his reporter did not take their evidence to Giles in December 2011 to make a formal pitch for a half-hour slot.
Soon after the Newsnight investigation was shelved, well-sourced leaks suggested it had been dropped because of pressure from above, to avoid embarrassment over the BBC's planned Christmas Savile tributes and to protect its reputation.