Developments in scandal at BBC over Savile

AP News
Posted: Dec 19, 2012 9:13 AM

LONDON (AP) — The BBC has published an internal review into the decision to shelve an investigation by its "Newsnight" program into allegations that its late host Jimmy Savile was a serial child sex abuser.

Here are key developments in the scandal:

Oct. 29, 2011: Longtime BBC children's television host Jimmy Savile dies at the age of 84. The eccentric, platinum haired entertainer had received a knighthood and numerous other honors.

December 2011: The BBC pulls a "Newsnight" program that would have linked Savile to the repeated sexual abuse of children. Instead, the BBC shows tribute programs.

Oct. 2, 2012: "Newsnight" editor Peter Rippon writes a blog post saying the Savile program was shelved for editorial reasons, denies it was part of any BBC cover-up.

Oct. 3: A documentary by the BBC's main commercial rival, ITV, exposes the dark side of Savile's life. The show prompts a probe by police, which later leads to a formal criminal investigation.

Oct. 12: BBC director general George Entwistle announces the broadcaster will launch an official review of its culture and practices at the time of Savile's offenses and investigate why the "Newsnight" program was shelved.

Oct. 22: A BBC "Panorama" show airs, with reporters quizzing senior management about why they canned the bombshell program on Savile. BBC says Peter Rippon, "Newsnight" editor, will step aside pending an investigation into his decision to scrap the Savile story. The broadcaster also issues a correction to Rippon's previous blog post, calling it "inaccurate."

Oct. 23: Entwistle acknowledges to lawmakers there had been "a problem of culture within the BBC" that allowed Savile's behavior to go unchecked. The BBC says it is investigating claims of sexual abuse and harassment against nine staff members and contributors, in addition to Savile.

Oct. 25: Savile is identified by police as one of the worst sex offenders in British history.

Nov. 2: "Newsnight" broadcasts an expose about child sex abuse in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s that includes allegations about an unnamed senior politician.

Nov. 9: Alistair McAlpine, a Conservative party member of the House of Lords named in Internet chatter as the culprit, comes forward to deny the charges and threaten legal action against the BBC. The person who made the accusations in the "Newsnight" broadcast, Steve Messham, then apologizes and said it was a case of mistaken identity. BBC apologizes and suspends "Newsnight" investigations.

Nov. 10: Entwistle resigns.

Nov. 15: BBC reaches legal settlement with McAlpine.

Dec. 12: Police say they have recorded 199 crimes in which Savile is a suspect, including 31 rapes.

Dec. 19. An internal review absolves BBC executives of a cover-up, blaming weak leadership at the organization. A separate report finds the BBC committed a "grave breach" of its editorial guidelines when it aired the McAlpine broadcast. Deputy director of news Steve Mitchell resigns.