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BBC Boss Promises Probe of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Late 'Top of the Pops' Host

George Entwistle - P 2012

George Entwistle says the British public broadcaster will conduct an internal investigation after assisting police in their probe of Jimmy Savile.

New BBC director general George Entwistle has promised an internal investigation of allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, the late host of music charts show Top of the Pops.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today show, Entwistle said that right now, the public broadcaster would focus on providing full co-operation in a police probe of the allegations, the BBC reported on its web site.

But an internal probe, which he had previously signaled would be unnecessary, would happen once the police examination is finished though, it quoted Entwistle as saying. He also called the abuse allegations "awful."

The BBC has in recent days come under increasing pressure to conduct such an internal probe.

The debate surrounding Savile was kicked off by an ITV documentary that cited women saying that the late broadcaster sexually abused them and others as young girls. Some of the transgressions may have happened on BBC premises.

Savile, who died in Oct. 2011, was best known for his BBC TV show Jim'll Fix It and for being the first and last host of the broadcaster's long-running music charts show Top of the Pops.

"A number of serious and disturbing allegations have been made...about the sexual abuse of teenage girls by Jimmy Savile," the BBC had said last week. "Some of these allegations relate to activity on BBC premises in the 1960s and '70s. We are horrified by allegations that anything of this sort could have happened at the BBC - or have been carried out by anyone working for the BBC."

It added: "They are allegations of a serious criminal nature, which the police have the proper powers to investigate." The broadcaster also promised to provide its "full support to any lines of inquiry they wish to pursue."

Meanwhile, the chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, told a business dinner in Cardiff, Wales that Savile's behavior could not be accused by saying times were different in his day. "It's no excuse to say 'I'm sure the same thing used to happen with pop groups and others at the time'," the Guardian quoted him as saying. "Those things may be true, but they don't provide an excuse."

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