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Tony Blackburn 'can't wait' for Radio 2 return in new year

Published 19/10/2016

The BBC said it stood by the findings of the review and the decision to take Tony Blackburn off air at the start of this year
The BBC said it stood by the findings of the review and the decision to take Tony Blackburn off air at the start of this year

Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn - who was sacked over evidence he gave to the Jimmy Savile inquiry - has announced his return to the BBC, saying he "can't wait to get behind the mic again".

The73-year-old broadcaster, a household favourite, claimed he had been made a "scapegoat" after he was taken off air following Dame Janet Smith's review into sexual abuse at the BBC.

The corporation said it stood by the findings of the review and the decision to take Blackburn off air at the start of this year, but that he would be back on Radio 2 in January.

Blackburn has strenuously denied suggestions that he ''seduced'' Claire McAlpine - who later committed suicide - after inviting her back to his flat following a recording of Top Of The Pops in the 1970s .

He previously threatened to sue the corporation.

But in a statement announcing his return, he said: "I do not seek to criticise the BBC for decisions it has made in the past.

"I have had a difficult year personally, but I'm pleased to be returning to the BBC and can't wait to get behind the mic again."

Blackburn will present an hour-long show on Radio 2 on Fridays at 7pm, and will also return to local radio.

The BBC's director-general, Lord Hall, said in February that the BBC "parted company" with the veteram DJ because his evidence "fell short" of the standards the Savile sex abuse inquiry demanded.

"This is one of the most important inquiries in the BBC's history. And that has put an even greater responsibility on everyone who took part in that inquiry to co-operate fully and to be open," Lord Hall said.

Blackburn was the subject of a complaint in 1971.

He denied in evidence that he had ever been made aware by the BBC of the complaint against him that year, even though the corporation told the inquiry he had been.

Blackburn said "all relationships" he had with the BBC were "terminated with immediate effect" because his evidence to Dame Janet's review, concerning the 1971 investigation, contradicted the BBC's own version of events.

Wednesday's BBC statement said Blackburn "stands by his statements to Dame Janet Smith but recognises that the BBC considered a period off air was appropriate".

The BBC said it "stands by the findings of Dame Janet Smith and the decision it made to take Tony Blackburn off air at the start of this year", bu t it added: "We are pleased to announce Tony Blackburn's return to the BBC in January 2017."

Blackburn, who has been one of the BBC's best-known radio presenters in a career spanning six decades, claimed he was given the opportunity to resign from the corporation and engineer a return in a "few months".

"I love the BBC, I was proud to work for the BBC. I was proud to open up Radio 1 and I don't know why this is happening to me," he previously said.

"This one comment from Dame Janet Smith has ruined it all and I do object to that...

"If the director-general came up to me and said 'We've made a mistake, it's all gone wrong', I'd shake his hand, there would be no hard feelings at all."

Blackburn said he had refused to resign "because I have got nothing to hide".

He said he wished he had been investigated at the time of the allegation of sexual activity by the girl, to prove his innocence, "but I only heard of this in 2012, I think it was".

Blackburn was the first DJ to broadcast on Radio 1 when it launched in September 1967 and spent 17 years at the station.

His TV work has included Top Of The Pops and Noel's House Party.

The veteran broadcaster, who won the first series of I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2002, tweeted his fans about his return: "Thank you for all your lovely messages xx."

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