Sunday, 28 October 2012

Newsnight, the BBC and Savile

In almost all of the coverage of Newsnight, the BBC and the Savile scandal, people have been missing the main point. They are treating this as a news story, handled badly or well by Newsnight according to opinion. But it isn't.

From the moment Karin Ward mentioned Gary Glitter it was an allegation of a serious time committed on BBC premises by a living person. At that moment, the news story should have taken second priority behind passing the issue up the management chain so the authorities could be informed. Even had Glitter not been mentioned, the word should still have gone straight to the top of management because if Savile has been able to hoodwink the BBC for so long about this, there was still the possibility that the BBC's procedures even today are still inadequate.

But Newsnight didn't do that. They held onto the story so they could make a big public splash. That might be good journalism, but it stinks as a child protection measure. Had the abuse happened elsewhere, e.g. a school, we would expect the head teacher to be informed and the authorities immediately after, even though from experience I know that doesn't actually happen at some schools.

Panorama didn't notice the child protection aspect. They just treated it as a news story badly managed by Newsnight.

After making an apology to the victims, George Entwistle has also concentrated solely on the journalistic aspects of the issue. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that Newsnight ought to have informed his predecessor for child protection reasons.

And the MPs on the Select Committee who grilled Entwistle have also comprehensively missed the point. They grilled him on how Newsnight covered the story.

When is everyone covering this going to stop thinking as journalists and start looking at the child protection issues? If the abuse has remained hidden and unaddressed until now, there is nothing to prevent there from being another Savile still at the BBC.


  1. Lord patten I believe is chairman of the bbc and an "ex pupil of st benedicts,"maybe he will have some expert advice for this evil cover up that has happened at the top for 3decades at the bbc if it can be ignored there it can be ignored anywhere.frightening to think.

  2. I have a question - should the safeguarding governor in any school (although I'm thinking of a state primary) also be a member of staff, or is this bad practice? Thank you.

  3. Patten is more than an ex-pupil. He is described as the "Patron" of the school and previously served as an "advisor". He has consistently failed to respond to fellow old boys congratulating him for his tough words about Savile but asking why he remains so doggedly mute on the subject of the serial pederasts active at St Benedict's since, according to the oldest witness we could find, the 1940s.

  4. Strange - Gumley-mason used to work at the BBC too!

  5. Does Abbot Martin feel proud that Ealing Abbey has been the subject of the first Apostolic visitation in Great Britain for more than one hundred years?

  6. 16:54
    I would recommend against a staff governor being the designated governor for safeguarding. The system can be made to work that way, but all other things being equal I would prefer the safeguarding governor to be a little more independent.

  7. Whoops there goes the Papal Knighthood for both Cleugh and Patten shame that !