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BBC Savile probe to review policies

Lord Patten has asked the BBC director-general George Entwistle to review its guidelines on child protection following what he called the "cesspit" of sexual abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile.

The chairman of the BBC Trust said he wanted to ensure the corporation's policies were "fit for purpose" after numerous claims that Savile's alleged abuse had taken place on the broadcaster's premises.

He also pledged that the BBC's independent inquiry should be launched as swiftly as possible following a police investigation into Savile's activities. Lord Patten also said he believed it would be a good idea for Mr Entwistle to make a prominent TV apology on behalf of the BBC once the claims had been unravelled.

He said: "The BBC has in place child protection policies, processes, guidance for us by all staff on and off the premises and independents making programmes for the BBC. We've asked the director-general to assure us that those policies are up to date and fit for purpose that they're effective in protecting minors and under-age children.

"We've also said that we want to be satisfied on the arrangements in place for dealing with sexual harassment, bullying and whistleblowing and we want to be sure that those guidelines that do exist are gold standard and up to date and comply with current best practice."

Addressing the Broadcasting Press Guild, he spoke of "the appalling allegations, the cesspit of the Jimmy Savile allegations" as he tackled issues surrounding the former Top Top Of The Pops and Radio 1 host.

His comments came hours after Savile's headstone was removed from a cemetery in Scarborough and taken away out of "respect to public opinion". The elaborate tombstone was removed from Woodlands Cemetery at midnight at the request of Savile's family to be broken up and sent to landfill.

Lord Patten said he had never crossed paths with Savile personally, but added: "I always thought that Jimmy Savile was a pretty odd customer but took at face value the view that Jimmy Savile was doing great charitable work."

Although he had read about references to Freddie Starr and Gary Glitter in the testimonies of one alleged victim, Lord Patten said he did not know of any claims against further BBC stars. "I'm not aware of any other allegation but obviously if there are other allegations, I hope the police will be told about them," he said.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the BBC had "serious allegations" to answer about the way women had been treated in the workplace. "I think Lord Patten's right to say if, at the end of that criminal investigation, there is a need to do more, then the BBC should be asking those questions," she told BBC Two's Newsnight. "There are some serious allegations, not only about the behaviour of Jimmy Savile, but also some of the institutional problems around the way that women have been treated in the workplace, and I think they are serious issues for any organisation."

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