Belfast Telegraph

Rippon 'tried to kill Savile story'

A Newsnight reporter alleged that her editor tried to "kill" the Jimmy Savile story by making "impossible editorial demands" and saying the women who spoke out about the TV star were not too young at the time of the incidents.

Channel 4 News said it had seen an email sent last December by Newsnight reporter Liz MacKean in which she discusses Newsnight editor Peter Rippon's response to her investigation into Savile.

Mr Rippon stepped aside from his job on Monday after the BBC said his explanation of why Newsnight dropped its Savile investigation was "inaccurate or incomplete".

In the email, Ms MacKean wrote: "Having commissioned the story, Peter Rippon keeps saying he's lukewarm about it and is trying to kill it by making impossible editorial demands."

She reportedly claimed: "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."

Ms MacKean, who appeared on the BBC's Panorama documentary last night, said she believed Mr Rippon did not tell BBC1, which was planning to run Savile tributes, about the investigation.

"He hasn't warned BBC1 about the story, so they're beavering away on the special, oblivious," she wrote.

BBC director-general George Entwistle has since come under fire for not dropping the BBC's Savile tributes when he was head of BBC Vision, despite knowing that Newsnight had investigated the former TV star.

He told MPs that he believed the Newsnight investigation should have continued.

In a statement to Channel 4 News in response to the email, the BBC said: "The BBC has confirmed it has launched an independent review lead by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard which will cover these questions. It would not be appropriate to comment further until these have been concluded."

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