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BBC: Rippon's Savile blog was wrong

The BBC has said that a blog post by Newsnight editor Peter Rippon was inaccurate in three key respects, and wrongly claimed that the programme had no new information that would have helped police.

In a statement confirming that Rippon will “step aside” while the BBC’s internal review into the pulling of the Newsnight investigation is carried out, the Corporation also said that a 2 October blog written by Rippon explaining the decision to drop the programme’s investigation “is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects.”

The correction focused on three areas of Rippon’s original blog.

In the potentially most damaging update, it says that Rippon’s claim that all the women spoken to by Newsnight had contacted the police independently already and that Newsnight had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police, was wrong.

“It appears that in some cases women had not spoken to the police and that the police were not aware of all the allegations,” the BBC said.

It added: “The BBC regrets these errors and will work with the Pollard review to assemble all relevant evidence to enable the review to determine the full facts.”

Rippon’s claim that that Newsnight had no evidence directly linking the BBC with the alleged abuse was also wrong, the BBC’s correction asserted.

While “no allegation was made to the programme that BBC staff were aware of Mr Savile’s alleged activities”, the correction said that “there were some allegations of abusive conduct on BBC premises”.

The BBC added that the blog’s assertion that Newsnight had no evidence that anyone from the Duncroft Approved School for Girls in Staines where abuse allegedly took place could or should have known about the allegations was also incorrect.

“In fact some allegations were made (mostly in general terms) that some of the Duncroft staff knew or may have known about the abuse,” the BBC correction said.

Click to read the BBC’s updated blog.

Rippon steps aside

The BBC added that Rippon has stepped down “with immediate effect.” Rippon will not be in his post while a review into the management of Newsnight’s investigation is carried out by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard.

Rippon will remain on full pay and is understood to be using the time to prepare for Pollard’s inquiry.

A BBC statement said: “On the basis of material now available, it is apparent from information supplied by the Newsnight editor and programme team, that the explanation by the Editor in his blog of his decision to drop the programme’s investigation is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects.

“The BBC regrets these errors and will work with the Pollard review to assemble all relevant evidence to enable the review to determine the full facts.”

Trust response

The Trust said that it found the fact that inaccuracies were contained in what it called “the BBC’s own description of what happened in relation to the Newsnight investigation” was “deeply concerning” and demanded that the Pollard investigation will “fully investigate” how they happened and were handled.

It added: “While it is right that the Director General should seek to correct those inaccuracies, the public will want to know, as the Trust does, exactly what happened.

“In line with its responsibilities to the public, the Trust wants the inquiry to comprehensively establish the facts surrounding the Newsnight issue as soon as possible.”

DG letter

Entwistle wrote to all BBC staff earlier today to update them about the situation.

Dear All,

With the BBC remaining in the spotlight in what is a difficult time, I wanted to update you on the latest information:

  • The BBC has published a statement correcting the blog by the editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon, as the explanation of his decision to drop the programme’s investigation is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects.
  • In addition, Peter Rippon is stepping aside from his post with immediate effect while the independent review by Nick Pollard, into the management of Newsnight’s investigation, is carried out.
  • Panorama will be broadcast tonight at 10.35pm on BBC One. The BBC will continue to report on this situation with editorial independence and processes are in place to ensure any potential conflict of interest is avoided.
  • Following my offer to appear before the House of Commons, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, I will be answering questions tomorrow at 10.30am.

We will continue to keep you updated with further developments as they happen.

Kind regards,

 

George Entwistle

Director-General

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