BBC Appoints Two Leaders for Probes Into Late 'Top of the Pops' Host

Jimmy Savile Sex Abuse Scandal and BBC Leadership Crisis
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The BBC has faced one of its biggest image crises since a sexual abuse scandal surrounding late BBC TV host Jimmy Savile rocked the U.K. public broadcaster in September. The former host of BBC music chart show Top of the Pops is believed to have abused mostly young people, including on BBC premises. The BBC was further affected when it emerged that flagship news show Newsnight had dropped a probe into allegations against Savile in late 2011. And when Newsnight in early November also wrongly accused a former politician of abuse, George Entwistle had to resign as director general after only 54 days in the post. Incoming director general Tony Hall will look to repair the damage to the venerable broadcaster's reputation.

Meanwhile, a high-level politician calls for a government investigation into allegations that Jimmy Savile sexually abused women.

LONDON - The BBC has appointed former Sky News head Nick Pollard and former Appeal Court judge Janet Smith to lead two probes into sexual abuse allegations against late Top of the Pops host Jimmy Savile.

Following revelations in an ITV documentary, police here say Savile may have abused about 60 people, including during his time working for the BBC.

Pollard will look into why news magazine Newsnight ended up shelving an investigation into a police decision to drop a sexual abuse probe against Savile. And Smith will look into the work culture and practices at the BBC during the time Savile worked there.

The broadcaster is also planning to name an independent expert to look at sexual harassment claims and practices.

Meanwhile, Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, has called on the government to order an independent investigation.

She argued that the two internal BBC probes would not be enough.

"We know from experience that the best way to learn the lessons is to have a proper independent inquiry," she said on Radio 4 morning show Today on Wednesday. "Jimmy Savile is dead, and therefore he will not be able to stand trial and I think one of the really key questions that we all need to understand and learn lessons from is why did so many people feel they couldn't complain, that they weren't able to complain and why did those people who did complain, why were they not believed."

Savile died in Oct. 2011.

Critics have assailed the BBC for not looking more closely at him more closely earlier amid reports that his behavior was widely known.

Twitter: @georgszalai