Belfast Telegraph

Patten: Savile scandal damaged BBC

Allegations of sex abuse against BBC DJ and presenter Jimmy Savile have done "terrible damage" to the reputation of the corporation, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has said.

Lord Patten, who has come under criticism for the speed of his response, said that the best way of restoring public trust in the BBC was for the independent inquiries set up to look into the scandal to get to the bottom of what happened as soon as possible and for the corporation to be "open" about what they find.

The Trust chairman admitted that he did not read press reports earlier this year about the scrapping of a Newsnight film exposing Savile, but denied charges that he was devoting too little time to the job of heading the BBC's regulator because of his other interests.

He said BBC director general George Entwistle had faced a "baptism of fire" after taking up the job in September, as the corporation was engulfed by a "tsunami of filth" within weeks of his appointment.

Asked about Mr Entwistle's widely-criticised appearance before the Commons Culture Committee earlier this week, Lord Patten did not leap to the defence of his performance, but said that even "a combination of Benjamin Disraeli and Mr Gladstone" would have had a difficult job dealing with the hearing.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One, Lord Patten said: "Whatever the other questions we get asked and the other considerations, our main concern has to be for the victims of abuse and worse - men as well as women, but mostly women, who have been marooned for years, trying to tell their stories and not being believed - including, it seems, by the BBC.

"We have to deal with the terrible damage to the reputation of the BBC, which has hitherto been a national institution which people have trusted."

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