Jimmy Savile sex scandal inquiries cost BBC £5m

The BBC has spent about £5 million investigating the Jimmy Savile sex scandal and its aftermath.

The Jimmy Savile scandal damaged BBC. Picture: PA
The Jimmy Savile scandal damaged BBC. Picture: PA

Its annual report and accounts reveal the Pollard Review, which looked at why the BBC dropped a Newsnight investigation into Savile, accounted for almost half of that.

It cost £2.4m which included £101,000 to cover the “legal and related costs” of Helen Boaden, who was heavily criticised in the report.

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The then head of news was among the senior executives criticised for failing to act while the BBC was plunged into chaos by the scandal.

Figures show the cost of the review and subsequent investigations into respect at work and the BBC’s culture and practices while Savile worked there have cost £4.9m excluding tax and VAT up to the end of March.

A third investigation, which will also examine the case of recently jailed Stuart Hall, will be published later this year – sending the final bill even higher.

Writing in the report, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten quoted Charles Dickens to contrast the success of the Olympics coverage with the Savile scandal ,saying: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

He said the revelations about the scrapped Newsnight investigation and subsequent departure of director-general George Entwistle were “low points”.

He said: “The BBC seriously let down both itself and licence fee payers.”

New director-general Tony Hall said he wanted to change the culture at the BBC and called for “greater personal accountability” and a simpler corporation.

In a letter to Lord Patten he said he had been “struck by the complexity of the organisation and inhibiting effect that has on creativity.”

He added that he was “personally leading a major piece of work to look at how we can simplify our organisation”.

The BBC initially said the Pollard Review would cost £2m but Tim Davie, who stood in as director-general following Mr Entwistle’s departure, said that had been an “estimate”. He said: “The primary objective here was to do it properly and fully”.

At a press conference at New Broadcasting House, in central London, Mr Hall said he hoped the BBC would be a “simpler” organisation by this time next year.

He said he would be working closely with HR executive Lucy Adams, who was heavily criticised by a committee of MPs last week over hefty pay-offs to senior staff, and said he had full confidence in her.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Families up and down the country are having to pick up the cost of investigating this terrible scandal through their licence fees, which then reduces the resources available for making programmes.”

The accounts show BBC income from the licence fee rose by £50m to £3.65 billion in 2013.

Staff numbers under fire

THE BBC has been criticised after it emerged it is sending about 250 people to provide coverage at The Open.

Employees working at the four-day event include 135 full-time staff and a host of technical contractors and freelances.

The Open, at Muirfield in East Lothian, begins tomorrow and the BBC has exclusive rights. Coverage will be hosted by Hazel Irvine.

Patricia Ferguson MSP, Scottish Labour’s culture spokeswoman, said: “This does seem like a large number of people to send to cover one event in a time when we’re all having to make cutbacks.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “The Open Championship is one of the highlights of the international golf calendar. It is also one of the most complicated outside broadcasts that we do.”

Radio 4’s Naughtie to anchor Good Morning Scotland

James Naughtie, from BBC Radio 4’s Today show, is to anchor the Good Morning Scotland programme in the run-up to the referendum.

The Scot, who has anchored several election specials and who covered the inauguration of the Pope for Radio 4, will host the BBC Radio Scotland show two days a week.

Naughtie’s move was revealed yesterday. Naughtie will be back presenting the Today programme full-time before the 2015 UK general election.

He said: “The constitutional debate and the decision next year have great historic importance for Scotland and the whole of the UK, so I am excited to be in the thick of it, on both sides of the Border, from start to finish.”