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Another Jimmy Savile may be skulking in the BBC, leaked report warns

By Dominic Harris

Published 22/01/2016

The review warned of a culture of deference to stars such as Savile
The review warned of a culture of deference to stars such as Savile

Another "predatory child abuser" could be lurking at the BBC, a leaked draft of a report into abuse by Jimmy Savile has warned.

The review, published by the website Exaro, condemned the corporation for its "deferential culture", "untouchable stars" and "above the law" managers.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said the review, by Dame Janet Smith, would be "invaluable" in helping the organisation learn from the past and preventing the repeat of a "dark chapter".

Rapes, indecent assaults on boys and girls and incidents of "inappropriate sexual conduct" were all "in some way associated with the BBC", the draft report stated, adding that three of Savile's victims were just nine.

Incidents occurred at "virtually every one of the BBC premises" in which Savile worked, the review said, and more than 100 employees at the corporation had heard about Savile's sexual conduct but were afraid to report him.

Investigations into allegations of sexual assault were branded "wholly inadequate", and the BBC was criticised for failing to properly investigate the star.

Retired judge Dame Janet accepted denials from bosses that they knew of Savile's activities and she did not criticise the BBC for discovering his crimes.

But she condemned the corporation's culture and wrote: "My general impression is that most staff felt the management culture was too deferential and that some executives were above the law."

The BBC's "talent" was held in "awe" by most staff, who treated them "deferentially", she added, writing: "It would be a brave person indeed who would make a complaint against such a person."

A statement on the Dame Janet Smith Review website expressed disappointment at the leak and said it was out of date and could not be relied upon.

The draft was published a day after the review announced the long-delayed final report would be published within six weeks because "the review has been informed by the police that it is no longer concerned that publication of the report could prejudice its ongoing investigations".

Commenting after the leak, Lord Hall said: "My thoughts and all our thoughts are with the victims of Jimmy Savile and their families. What happened was a dark chapter in the history of the BBC.

"Dame Janet Smith's report will be invaluable in helping us understand what happened and to help ensure we do everything possible to avoid it happening again.

"The review has said that the copy leaked to the media is an early draft which has changed considerably, so, while I am impatient to learn those lessons, the responsible thing must be to act on the final report."

Liz Dux, an abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, which represents 168 alleged Savile victims - many of whom where allegedly assaulted at the BBC - said the leaked report's findings were "deeply disturbing".

"That little has been done at the BBC to prevent another predatory abuser using their celebrity and influence to target the young and vulnerable is of grave concern," she added.

The lawyer also called for legislation to make it mandatory to report suspected abuse.

BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead said the review dealt with "very troubling issues" and the corporation was grateful to those who had come forward.

"We will provide every possible assistance to enable swift publication (of the final report) and make sure the BBC takes all appropriate action to address the report's conclusions," she added.

Jesse Norman, chairman of the Westminster Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said if the leaked draft mirrors the final report, it is a "terrible indictment" of the culture of the BBC at the time.

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