Savile abuse report finds BBC culture of 'reverence' to celebrities

25th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

An inquiry into child sexual abuse by late presenter Jimmy Savile at the BBC found Thursday there was a culture of "reverence" towards celebrities at the British broadcaster which helped protect him.

"There was a feeling of reverence for them and a fear that, if a star were crossed, he or she might leave the BBC," Janet Smith, the report's author, said.

She added that the BBC's culture had made it difficult for employees to flag up issues which might "rock the boat" and that an "atmosphere of fear" about whistleblowing still exists today.

But Smith also said she had found "no evidence that the BBC, as a corporate body, was aware of Savile's inappropriate sexual conduct in connection with his work for the BBC."

The chairman of the BBC's governing body the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead, admitted the broadcaster had "failed" the victims, adding: "It turned a blind eye where it should have shone a light".

Savile was one of Britain's top celebrities from the 1960s until his death in 2011, famous for his shock of white hair, outlandish clothes and charity fundraising activities.

He hosted some of the BBC's best known television programmes including music chart show Top Of The Pops, as well as broadcasting on BBC radio.

But after his death, disturbing allegations about how he exploited his celebrity to abuse young fans became public, provoking a media storm.

Police launched the Operation Yewtree inquiry to probe allegations against Savile and a string of other well-known British personalities from a similar era.

Children's TV presenter Rolf Harris was subsequently jailed for nearly six years in 2014 for indecent assault against four young girls while 1970s glam rocker Gary Glitter was sent to prison last year for 16 years over the abuse of three young girls.

© 2016 AFP

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