BBC to turn Savile review spotlight on Stuart Hall

There will not be a second inquiry into how disgraced television star Stuart Hall was able to abuse his victims while working at the BBC, the chairman of the corporation’s trust said yesterday.

Former broadcaster Stuart Hall, left, is escorted from Preston Crown Court after last weeks admission of guilt. Picture: PA
Former broadcaster Stuart Hall, left, is escorted from Preston Crown Court after last weeks admission of guilt. Picture: PA

Lord Patten said that instead a review of the Jimmy Savile scandal by Dame Janet Smith would also investigate how Hall – who has admitted indecently assaulting 13 girls during the 1960s, 70s and 80s – gained access to his victims.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the chairman of the BBC Trust said the corporation was also likely to face compensation claims from Hall’s victims.

He said: “I think to set up a new inquiry, when there is already one which is extremely well-resourced operating, would probably delay arriving at the truth.

“If we need to do more, we will. At the end of the day, what we have to do is to provide answers which will satisfy people that we have been prepared to deal with our own dirty washing.”

Asked by guest presenter Jeremy Vine whether the BBC would be liable to pay compensation to the victims, Lord Patten added: “I imagine so, but that will be a matter for the lawyers and conceivably the courts.

“I think it would be incredible to be able to do that [estimate the cost of compensation] now because first of all what needs to happen is that we need to be able to get a grip on what happened and of course, in the meantime, co-operate with the police.

“It’s a different case from the Savile case because the main person who is alleged to have committed these crimes – who has committed these crimes, he has owned up to some of them – is actually alive.”

Lord Patten also shrugged off criticism from former BBC director general Greg Dyke, who yesterday described the chairman of the BBC Trust as a “lame duck”.

Lord Patten added: “If Greg Dyke was doing an interview on flower arranging he would find a way to turn it in to an attack on me.

“It’s worth remembering that he presided over the BBC at the last big crisis and as a result we have the present system of governance of the BBC, which has completely changed because of the Greg Dyke business.”

Hall, who shot to fame presenting It’s A Knockout, faces jail after pleading guilty to a string of offences against the girls, the youngest aged nine.

His first victim to make a formal complaint to police about Hall after being prompted by the Savile scandal has spoken of how the TV presenter tricked her into trusting him before he sexually abused her.

Kim Wright waived her right to anonymity to reveal how Hall attacked her when she was 17.

At the time Mrs Wright, now 45, did not complain because she feared she would be branded a “troublemaker” and that people would think the assault was trivial.

However, her complaint last year prompted more victims to step forward and helped secure Hall’s conviction.

Hall, 83, was described as an “opportunistic predator” by Nazir Afzal, chief prosecutor, after he appeared at Preston Crown Court last week.

Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell, QC, granted him bail on condition of residence at home and no unsupervised contact with children.