Dame Janet Smith review into sexual abuse at BBC ‘near end’

Published September 15, 2014 by JS2

Dame Janet Smith

Dame Janet Smith head a review into sexual abuse at the BBC, investigating whether bosses ought to have been aware of inappropriate sexual conduct on its premises.

Investigation received evidence from more than 700 people, many relating to Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall

The judge-led inquiry into sexual abuse at the BBC is “nearing the end” of its investigation having received evidence from more than 700 people including more than 350 witnesses relating to the late Jimmy Savile.

The Dame Janet Smith review, set up in the wake of the Savile scandal, said it had been in contact with more than 100 other people about another disgraced former BBC presenter, Stuart Hall, with more evidence still to come.

The review, established in October 2012, is expected to uncover hundreds of victims targeted by Savile and reveal a culture of ignorance which protected him.

Later revelations about Hall, jailed last year after pleading guilty to a string of child abuse charges, prompted the BBC to announce a related inquiry, led by former high court judge Dame Linda Dobbs, which will feed into the Smith review.

In an update published on the review’s website on Monday, it said it had been in contact with “approximately 740 people”.

It said more than 350 phone conversations and almost 190 witness interviews had taken place in connection with the investigation into Savile.

More than 100 phone conversations and a further 31 witness interviews had taken place in relation to the Hall investigation, it said.

Nearly two years after it was set up, there is no publication date for the review, which is expected to conclude by the end of this year.

The number of witness statements and evidence taken is a further indication of the huge scale of the Smith review, which will examine the culture and practices of the BBC from 1965 until 2006.

It will investigate whether BBC bosses were or ought to have been aware of inappropriate sexual conduct on its premises, and will look to identify any lessons to be learned from the evidence it has uncovered and consider whether the BBC’s current child protection and whistleblowing policies are fit for purpose.

When it is published the review is expected to provoke further negative media coverage and awkward questions for the BBC about how Savile was able to get away with sexually abusing children over such a long period while working for the corporation on shows including Jim’ll Fix It.

A BBC spokesman said: “We note the review’s statement and understand the reasons for it. We will await the delivery of the report later in the year.”

In a statement, the review said: “While the review is nearing the end of its work, it continues to conduct interviews and to receive relevant evidence. The review expects that its report will be finalised before the end of the year. When a publication date is known, a further update will be provided.”

 

John Plunkett

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