BBC chief says Savile abuse was "dark chapter" in corporation's history

A draft report into how the BBC handled Savile has been leaked

Jimmy Savile, BBC, report, leaked, UK, sexual abuse, Janet Smith, Exaro

Jimmy Savile attends a ceremony to name a new cruise-liner in 2010 | Image: Anwar Hussein / EMPICS Entertainment

The author of a report about BBC culture at the time of Jimmy Savile has heavily criticised a website which leaked it.

Janet Smith, who was appointed by the BBC to lead a review into the former DJ's sex abuse, said she was "disappointed" by the publishing of the draft on the Exaro website.

The version of the report published by the investigative reporting group says the BBC had a "deferential culture", "untouchable stars" and "above the law" managers.

In a statement, Ms Smith said: "The review is disappointed by the decision of Exaro to publish, in breach of confidence, extracts from a leaked copy of an early draft of its report".

"That document is out of date and significant changes have been made to its contents and conclusions. The document should not have been made public and cannot be relied upon in any circumstances".

"The review will work with the BBC to arrange publication of its final report as quickly as possible to ensure that accurate and responsible reporting can take place".

While the BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, has responded saying: "What happened was a dark chapter in the history of the BBC. Dame Janet Smith’s report will be invaluable in helping us understand what happened and to help ensure that we do everything possible to avoid it happening again".

"The review has said that the copy leaked to the media is an early draft which has changed considerably, so while I am impatient to learn those lessons the responsible thing must be to act on the final report which we have not received".

"The review expects the report to be published within six weeks and we hope it will be published as swiftly as possible".

More than 100 BBC employees told Ms Smith's review that they had heard about Savile's predatory conduct, according to Exaro.

'Review was finished a year ago'

The draft report says: "Most of those who heard rumours about Savile's life did not appear to have been shocked by them. Many seem to have regarded them as amusing".

"No one to whom we spoke ever though that he or she ought to report such a rumour to a person in authority".

"Some also assumed that BBC management must be aware of Savile's reputation and did not think it was for them to do anything about it".

In 2012, UK police carried out a criminal review that found Savile's abuse to have been on an "unprecendented scale" and 450 victims alleged they had been abused by him.

Exaro says that the review was finished a year ago and sent to BBC employees for comment. The investigative news group says the report was then "watered down" after receiving "strong objections to many of her criticisms".

Ms Smith, who also started her review in 2012, found in her earlier draft that Savile engaged in "unlawful or inappropriate" sexual activity on BBC premises 61 times.

This includes the rape of two underage girls, two overage girls (one of whom was 16) and one boy.

In her afterword, Smith asks whether it is possible that a predatory child abuser could be at the BBC even today.

"The answer is that I think it is possible," she says.