Report finds "no evidence" BBC bosses were aware of abuse by Jimmy Savile

It says a culture at the corporation made others fearful of passing on information

Jimmy Savile, abuse, BBC, culture, report, Janet Smith, leaked, Kim Harrison

In this 2012 file photo, a sign is seen at the entrance to a building at the BBC Television Centre in London | Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP/Press Association Images

A report into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile says there is "no evidence" any senior member of the BBC was aware of his behaviour.

Janet Smith, who carried out the investigation, said: "I must conclude that there is no evidence any senior member of staff (of head of department or above) was aware of Savile's conduct".

"It follows I have found no evidence that the BBC as a corporate body was aware of Savile's conduct".

But Ms Smith said the report still made for "sorry reading" as she criticised a culture of "virtually untouchable" celebrities, and staff fearful of speaking out.

A lawyer for 168 of Savile's victims said it was "implausible" that senior staff were in the dark and dismissed the report as an "expensive whitewash".

Ms Smith said some junior and middle-ranking staff had been aware of Savile's "inappropriate sexual behaviour" on programmes such as Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It.

However, the culture of the BBC in Savile's heyday made them scared of speaking out.

BBC director-general Tony Hall, speaking at a press conference, told victims he was "deeply sorry" for failing them and for Savile's "grotesque" abuse of power.

"A serial rapist and a predatory sexual abuser both hid in plain sight at the BBC for decades. It was a dark chapter in the history of the organisation, but a much darker one for all of you," he said.

Main findings:

  • 72 victims connected with Savile's BBC work
  • 57 female and 15 male
  • 8 people were raped (6 female and 2 male), including one victim aged 10
  • 47 victims were indecently or sexually assaulted
  • 19 victims in relation to Top of the Pops and 17 for Jim'll Fix It
  • 34 victims were under 16 
  • Youngest victim was 8 years old

The report also did not rule out the possibility that "a predatory child abuser could be lurking in the BBC even today".

"The power of celebrity and the trust we accord it, which show no real sign of diminishing in our society, make detection of a celebrity abuser even more difficult," Ms Smith said.

The report looked into the culture and practices of the BBC during the time Savile and fellow BBC presenter Stuart Hall, released from jail in December, carried out their abuse.
Costing nearly stg£7m (€8.86m), it interviewed 375 witnesses about Savile and 100 about Hall.

It said Savile - who died in October 2011 - "would gratify himself sexually on BBC premises whenever the opportunity arose".

It found he had raped eight people - six female and two male - and that 47 more were subjected to indecent or sexual assault.

One junior employee said she was told "keep your mouth shut, he is a VIP" after complaining Savile had put his hand up her skirt.

Eight complaints to BBC staff in the late 1960s were also brushed off or not escalated.

Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn earlier claimed the corporation had sacked him because his evidence to the inquiry had contradicted the BBC's version of events.

Blackburn, 73, has pledged to take legal action, claiming his experience is "in keeping with the past BBC culture of whitewash and cover-up".

He added: "They have taken away a career I love and I will not allow them to destroy my reputation".

Mr Hall told reporters that Mr Blackburn had been sacked after he "fell short" in the standard of evidence he gave to the inquiry and that Dame Janet had "rejected" his testimony.

Read the report in full here

Kim Harrison is a solicitor with Slater & Gordon, who represent 168 of Savile's victims in the UK.

She told Newstalk Breakfast earlier the delay in the Smith report has been stressful for her clients.