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Former BBC Boss Comments on Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Late TV Star

Jimmy Savile 1973 - P 2012
Hulton Archive

"I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile," the former host of "Top of the Pops," says incoming New York Times CEO Mark Thompson.

 

Incoming New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson has commented on the debate in Britain about late former Top of the Pops host Jimmy Savile, emphasizing that during his most recent job as the top executive of the BBC he was not aware of any sexual abuse allegations against the star.

"During my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile," Reuters quoted him as saying.

The BBC this week named two people to lead probes into the allegations and the public broadcaster's handling of them. Savile may have abused 60 people, including during his time working for the BBC, police have said.

One internal probe will look into why BBC flagship news magazine Newsnight ended up shelving an investigation into a police decision to drop a sexual abuse probe against Savile. That decision has led to accusations of a cover-up. The second probe will look into the work culture and practices at the BBC during the time Savile worked there.

Thompson, who starts his New York Times Co. leadership role next month, said: "I was not notified or briefed about the Newsnight investigation, nor was I involved in any way in the decision not to complete and air the investigation."

Reuters also quoted him as saying: "I have no reason to doubt the public statement by the program's editor, Peter Rippon, that the decision not to pursue the investigation was entirely his, and that it was made solely for journalistic reasons."

Reuters said a representative for the New York Times Co. did not comment on the BBC probes. Thompson was picked as its new CEO in August.

Savile died late last year.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai