BBC director general George Entwistle has said the corporation will leave “no stone unturned” as its helps police investigate the Jimmy Savile sexual assault allegations.
In an email to staff on Friday evening, Entwistle said he was “appalled” by the findings of ITV1’s Exposure documentary last week.
The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile interviewed 10 women who claim they were sexually assaulted by the Jim’ll Fix It star during the 1960s and 1970s. Savile died last year.
The BBC DG said he had personally made contact with senior police officers and had agreed to “closely” assist their investigation.
This will not involve the corporation launching its own inquiry because the police believe it would “run the risk of damaging or impeding their work”.
Entwistle added that the BBC has carried out a “thorough” search of its written records, but “crucially and regrettably” no formal complaints were made.
“We have found nothing at this stage to suggest any known wrong-doing was ignored by management,” Entwistle said.
“Checks are ongoing and if we do find anything relevant we will give it straight to the police.”
Meanwhile, staff have also been urged to come forward if they have any information that might help the investigation.
Entwistle admitted it had been a “difficult week” for the BBC, which has become caught up in the “deeply upsetting” issue.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are and must be with the women affected. I am absolutely determined that we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to support the police,” Entwistle said.
Separately, the director general stressed that Newsnight’s decision not to run its story on Savile was made “honestly and honourably”.
“I have seen no evidence to suggest that any pressure at all was placed on the editor to reach it, for the reasons he set out in his blog earlier this week.”
George Entwistle’s email to all BBC staff
I wanted to write to you at the end of what has been a difficult week for the BBC, following allegations from a number of women that Jimmy Savile sexually abused them when they were young teenagers during the 1960s and 70s.
Like everyone who works here, I was appalled by the things I saw in the ITV documentary. I am determined that the corporation will do absolutely everything it can to help find out what happened.
I have personally been in touch with the police at a senior level to discuss how we should proceed and I have agreed that we should work closely with them. I’m certain this is the right thing to do. The police are the only people with the proper powers to assess criminal allegations, and they have made it clear to me that any BBC internal enquiry in parallel would run the risk of damaging or impeding their work.
I want to make it clear that full cooperation with the police on this matter is vital. If any staff member past or present knows anything they think might help I would urge them to come forward and talk to the BBC Investigations team (call 020 8752 4168 during office hours) or go direct to the police (either call your local police station by dialling 101 or call the NSPCC phoneline on 0808 800 5000).
We have already carried out a thorough search of our written records. Crucially and regrettably, it appears no complaints were made at the time - and we have found nothing at this stage to suggest any known wrong-doing was ignored by management. But our checks are ongoing and if we do find anything relevant we will give it straight to the police.
As is now well known, the BBC Newsnight programme investigated Surrey Police’s enquiry into Jimmy Savile towards the end of 2011 but decided not to go ahead with the broadcast. The decision was made honestly and honourably. I have seen no evidence to suggest that any pressure at all was placed on the Editor to reach it, for the reasons he set out in his blog earlier this week.
With the Metropolitan Police now looking into Jimmy Savile’s activities on a UK-wide basis, we are working closely with them next week and will do so beyond to provide all the support we possibly can.
This is a deeply upsetting issue which I know has horrified people across the BBC, and our thoughts and sympathies are and must be with the women affected. I am absolutely determined that we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to support the police. I know I can rely on your cooperation.