BBC Head to Face Parliament Questions Over Former 'Top of the Pops' Presenter Scandal
LONDON -- BBC director general George Entwistle is to face questions from members of parliament over the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal engulfing the public broadcaster.
Entwistle is expected to explain the circumstances surrounding a decision by the editor of BBC flagship Newsnight program to drop an investigation into the late BBC presenter towards the end of last year.
He will face the culture, media and sports select committee on Oct. 23 after Maria Miller, the culture minister, described the investigative report as having been "inappropriately pulled" to the Houses of Parliament Monday.
The BBC has mounted three separate enquiries of its own in the wake of the allegations about the former presenter.
The first inquiry is looking at why an investigation into Savile by Newsnight was canned before airing last year.
The second will be into whether or not culture and practice at the BBC at the time enabled Savile to carry out the sexual abuse of children but that will wait for the go-ahead from the Metropolitan police, which is conducting its own investigation.
And the third will investigate the coporation's child protection policy and whether or not it is "currently fit for purpose."
Miller, responding to an urgent question raised in Parliament over the scandal, opened the debate describing the Savile allegations as "horrifying."
She said she had spoken to Entwistle last Friday about the steps the broadcaster was taking, according to ITV News.
"From these conversations," Miller said, "I am confident that the BBC and the [BBC] Trust are taking the allegations very seriously indeed."
Miller went on to list the independent inquiries already announced by Entwistle but raised eyebrows when she said that one of those inquiries would look at the circumstances surrounding the "inappropriately pulled" Newsnight investigation into Savile.
Miller said that these were "undoubtedly very serious matters which have wide ranging implications for a number of public institutions not just the BBC."
Miller dismissed calls for the Leveson inquiry into press practices to be extended to investigate the Savile scandal.
"Extending the scope of Leveson at the moment would result in a delay which I don't think anybody would like to see on that particular inquiry," she said.
Shortly afterwards the department of Culture clarified Miller's phrasing about the Newsnight investigation into Savile being "inappropriately pulled," saying she was not reflecting her own belief as to what happened regarding the film.
A spokesperson told ITV news that the first part of her sentence demonstrated that she was referring to allegations that the film was dropped for corporate reasons.
Miller said in her statement that the first of the BBC's inquiries "will look particularly at the allegations with regards to the item on Savile, which was inappropriately pulled from Newsnight."
The department then released the text Miller was intended to read out, demonstrating that she had slipped up slightly in the delivery. Miller was supposed to say: "The first review [by the BBC] will look into the allegations that an item on Savile was inappropriately pulled from Newsnight."
Entwistle, at a press conference Friday, issued a "profound and heartfelt apology on behalf of the BBC to every victim" before outlining the plans for the enquiries.