15 March 2015

BBC Boss Accused of Savile Abuse Inquiry 'Cover Up'

Rona Fairhead, the chairman of the BBC Trust, stands accused of suppressing information relating to the severely-delayed publication date of the Corporation's investigation into Jimmy Savile's sex crimes.

The Mail on Sunday reports how Ms Fairhead, who took over the role from Chris Patten last October, approved a decision to keep secret details from a cache of potentially damaging letters between leading figures at the Corporation and the team carrying out a review of Savile’s activities.

Martin Beckford's article continues: "The elements of correspondence Mrs Fairhead has kept hidden were thought to shed light on whether Corporation executives were trying to delay publication of the Savile report for fear that it would further damage the BBC’s reputation. The BBC insists no such pressure was applied to delay the report."

What the Mail on Sunday omitted to mention is that I am the "transparency campaigner" responsible for placing this information request with the BBC. A backlink would have been nice! I first approached the BBC for information on 13th August 2014. The full text of my Freedom of Information request, which has previously been reported in Broadcast Magazine, can be read here.

Anyone reading my trail of correspondence with the BBC will be left in little doubt about how unimpressed I am at its handling of my request for information.

Fairhead seems to be suggesting that the information released by the Dame Janet Smith Review to date supports the BBC's stance that it has not exerted any pressure on the Review team.

She implies that the withheld information supports that viewpoint, but despite the massive public interest and expense we'll just have to take her word for that.

The Information Commissioner's Office is currently reviewing the BBC's handling of my request for information. I have told the Commissioner that I require the formal issue of a Decision Notice, which will focus on the legality of BBC's decision to withhold information and the tardiness of its eventual response. I expect the Commissioner's decision very shortly.

As I have already indicated, I am ready to do battle with the BBC on this one.

If the BBC has attempted to nobble the timing and outcome of the Dame Janet Smith Review, then the public has a right to know. Given the BBC's previous antics, such underhand tactics would come as no surprise at all.

The Mail on Sunday has also published a comment piece on Fairhead's blocking of my request.


  1. Can u submit one for me and those who want the truth not gossip. Ask the BBC the date Freddie Starr's appearance on Clunk Click was recorded !! I'm sure u won't publish this or accede to my request

    1. You were 50% right: I have published your comment, but I won't be acceding to your request.
      What's the point of it? Why would people be interested in the date Freddie Starr appeared on Clunk Click?


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