Further insight into Peter Rippon’s decision to drop Newsnight’s Jimmy Savile film have emerged, as culture secretary Maria Miller writes to BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten for reassurance about how the Trust will handle the investigations.
An email sent from Newsnight reporter Liz MacKean to an unknown recipient, seen by Channel 4 News, said the suspended Newsnight editor was “trying to kill it [the Jimmy Savile story] by making impossible editorial demands.”
She is reported to have written: “When we rebut his points, he resorts to saying, well, it was 40 years ago … the girls were teenagers, not too young … they weren’t the worst kind of sexual offences etc.”
Separately, Miller’s letter to Patten highlighted “very real concerns are being raised about public trust and confidence in the BBC”.
Welcoming the two BBC inquiries she sought reassurance on how the Trust and the BBC executive management will work together.
Referring to the Trust’s review of BBC governance she reminded Patten of its commitment to be “clearer about the roles and responsibilities of the BBC Trust and Executive Board, including the interaction between both boards”.
Patten fights back
In response to the letter Patten wrote to Miller to reassure her about how seriously the Trust takes its responsibilities in maintaining public trust and the allegations surrounding Savile.
He added: “I know that you will not want to give any impression that you are questioning the independence of the BBC.”