Final report’s figure slightly up from leaked draft, but key findings remain unchanged
By Mark Watts and Tim Wood | 25 February 2016
“I was not guilty of any inappropriate conduct; my lawyers will take immediate action against anyone suggesting that I was” – Tony Blackburn, sacked BBC DJ
Retired judge Dame Janet Smith finds that BBC star Sir Jimmy Savile carried out sexual assaults linked to corporation premises on 72 people.
Some of the 72 women, girls and boys were sexually attacked by him more than once, she says in her final report published by the BBC today. The figure is slightly higher than was in the draft report leaked to Exaro last month.
Out of the 72, 21 were girls under 16 and another 13 were boys, Smith finds. Savile sexually assaulted one girl of only eight, and one boy who was nine.
She also finds that Savile carried out eight rapes linked to the BBC, including a girl of 13 and a boy of 10.
A BBC spokesman told Exaro today that the broadcaster had paid £526,000 in damages to 36 people who were sexually abused by Savile, plus £381,000 in legal fees.
A second report, by Dame Linda Dobbs, another former judge, found that Stuart Hall, who was also a huge BBC star, sexually assaulted eight girls under 16 and 13 young women.
The BBC said that the reviews cost £6.5 million in total.
The key disclosures from the draft report revealed by Exaro last month remained the same in the final report.
Smith blamed the failure to stop the abuse at the BBC on its “very deferential culture”. She criticised its “untouchable” stars and “above the law” managers.
However, she softened the tone on two points.
In her draft, she wrote: “The answer is that I think it is possible.”
But the final report says: “My answer is that I do not think there is any organisation that can be completely confident that it does not harbour a child abuser.”
Questioned about this change at a press conference this morning, Smith criticised Exaro for publishing the leak and claimed that she expressed her point more clearly in the final version.
She also cut back the passage on the problem of whistleblowing in the BBC today.
In her draft report, Smith said that fear of whistleblowing at the BBC was “even worse” than in Savile’s era. She wrote: “There is still a widespread reluctance to complain about anything or even for it to be known that one has complained to a third party.
“I found that employee witnesses who were about to say something to the review that was even mildly critical of the BBC were extremely anxious to maintain their anonymity.”
“These people were, and still are, afraid for their positions. Even with modern employment protection, people fear that, even if they do not lose their jobs, their promotion prospects will be blighted if they complain.
“It was explained to me that, in one respect, the position is even worse today than it was years ago in that so many people are now employed on short-term contracts or on a freelance basis, with little or no job security.
“Positions at the BBC are very sought after. The feeling that many workers have is that if they make any kind of complaint, they will not be used again. There are many people ‘out there’ who will be willing and able to take their places.”
Her final report says: “I was particularly disturbed… about the extent to which staff were and still are afraid to raise complaints or concerns for fear of losing their jobs or the opportunity for promotion or, for freelancers, the fear of not being used again.”
Meanwhile, Tony Blackburn confirmed in a statement that the BBC had sacked him as a presenter because Smith had rejected his evidence on two past investigations into allegations made by the mother of a 15-year-old girl.
His statement outed himself as DJ ‘A7’, the code given to him by Smith to keep his name confidential. Exaro revealed last month how the then unnamed DJ’s lawyers and Smith had clashed over her report.
Blackburn said: “I was not guilty of any inappropriate conduct; my lawyers will take immediate action against anyone suggesting that I was.”
He said that he would sue the BBC over his dismissal.
Lord Hall, BBC director-general, defended his decision to sack Blackburn.
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