The editor at the center of one of the biggest crises in BBC history has stepped aside from running his program after the organization said his explanations for dropping an investigation into alleged sexual abuse by longtime television star Jimmy Savile were "inaccurate or incomplete in some respects."
Peter Rippon is stepping aside with "immediate effect" while the BBC reviews his decision to pull the piece from the news program "Newsnight." Rippon's reporters had unearthed multiple allegations of child sexual abuse by Savile, an iconic presence on British television for decades. But he controversially chose to drop the probe, and a rival network ultimately aired a similar investigation.
Beyond the criminal inquiries, the BBC has since set up two probes. One is looking at why Savile was apparently allowed to commit his crimes so freely on BBC premises, and one looking at Rippon's decision. He has faced accusations (which he has strongly denied) that he came under pressure to look the other way due to a Christmas tribute to Savile that the BBC wanted to air.
Rippon claimed in a blog post that the piece was dropped solely because of a lack of evidence of police mismanagement in the Savile case. It is this statement that the BBC is now questioning.
The move came as "Panorama," a long-running investigative BBC series, looked inside its corporate home for an episode set to air Monday. It uncovered a series of emails between Rippon and his staff. According to the emails, Rippon was initially bullish on the investigation, but changed his mind abruptly when the reporters could not find evidence of police mismanagement of the allegations.
"The story is strong enough, and the danger of not running it is substantial damage to BBC reputation," an email from producer Merian Jones to Rippon read.
"We weren't asked to find more evidence ... we were told to stop looking at the story," he later told "Panorama," adding that he predicted charges of a "cover-up" would surface if the piece was shelved.
Liz McKean, a "Newsnight" reporter, sent an email to a friend: "PR [Peter Rippon] says if the bosses aren't happy … [he] can't go to the wall on this one."
Moreover, McKean told "Panorama" that the initial angle of the story had been focused squarely on the allegations of abuse, and not on the details of the police investigation. She called later claims about the angle of the piece "misleading."
"The story we were investigating was very clear-cut," she said. "It was about Jimmy Savile being a pedophile and using his status as a charity fundraiser and television presenter to get access to places where there were vulnerable teenage girls he could abuse."
The BBC statement said that Rippon had been incorrect when he wrote that "Newsnight" had found no evidence against the BBC, or that all of the women the program talked to had already gone to the police.
"Panorama" issued a statement saying that it had found "no evidence" to contradict Rippon's claims that he pulled the Savile investigation for editorial reasons and not because the corporation was planning the Christmas tributes.
"Panorama" also reported that George Entwisle, the current director-general of the BBC and a former "Newsnight" editor, was told that, if the Savile investigation were to air, planned Christmas tributes to him would likely have to be scrapped.
Entwistle is set to testify before Parliament about the crisis on Tuesday. He has repeatedly said that he only knew of an investigation, and did not attempt to find out the nature of the probe into Savile's life.
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Jimmy Savile in 1961 around the time he was working for Radio Luxembourg. He is at London Airport with Pan American stewardess Birgit Johansson with two gold discs; one is for American singer Elvis Presley for having sold one million copies of "It's Now or Never" in the UK, and the other is for Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker
Cilla Black and Jimmy Savile before a Variety Club Luncheon at the Savoy Hotel. Taken in 1964, the year Savile became the first presenter of Top of the Pops
Two women have come forward with allegations from the 1960s, one who was 14 and another who was a teenager when she claims Savile sexually abused her in Scarborough
Savile in 1969 with Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied (PHAB) member Erika Mentz from Germany and other PHAB members at a dance at Devonshire House
1969 also saw Savile begin volunteering at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital for specialist spinal injuries. He would later be given a room there
Jimmy Savile presenting a cheque to children on behalf of the NSPCC in 1969
The 1970s saw Savile start volunteering at Leeds General Infirmary and...
... Broadmoor secure high-security psychiatric hospital. Allegations by former patients have been made against Savile although ex-workers have disputed the idea that he could have been left alone with anyone whilst working there
The 70s also saw the start of Jim'll Fix It. Allegations from this period include Caroline Moore, a 13-year-old patient at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1971, who says Savile "rammed his tongue" down her throat and another allegation accuses Savile of molesting a brain-damaged teenage patient at Leeds General Infirmary in 1972
The 1980s saw the continuation of Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It as Savile became a much loved household name. Two allegations relating to this time include one from a then-15-year-old girl (not pictured) who made a complaint of abuse by Savile in Lancashire. Pictured is 12-year-old Rebecca Heap
Savile at the Stoke Mandeville hospital with injured children from Beirut in 1987
Savile was knighted in 1990 and continued his charity work throughout the decade
Savile was questioned in 2007 by police about allegations of sexual abuse but the Crown Prosecution service says there is not enough evidence to warrant a prosecution
A 2008 police report into abuse at the Haut de Garenne children's home in Jersey names Savile, although this is never made public
Savile re-united with his Jim'll Fix It chair in 2009. The previous year Sussex police received a complaint of sexual assault but went on to say the victim was "unwilling to co-operate in any investigation"
Jimmy Savile is found dead at the age of 84 in October 2011. He is buried in Scarborough
In December 2011 the BBC drop an investigation by Newsnight into the allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile. Three tribute programmes are aired instead
ITV airs a documentary, 'Exposure, the Other Side of Jimmy Savile', in which a number of women claim they were abused by Savile as youngsters, including Karin Ward (pictured)
Within days of the documentary, many more allegations surface. By the 9 October Peter Spindler of the Metropolitan Police tells the BBC: "It is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender"
11 October 2012 and George Entwistle, Director General of the BBC, asks journalists why the Newsnight programme was dropped as police from Tayside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and North Yorkshire police say they are investigating allegations going back to 1959
12 October and police reveal they have 340 potential lines of inquiry
15 October sees a man come forward alleging that Savile abused him when he was a nine-year-old boyscout
Savile's family removed his headstone from his grave and broke it up in the wake of the furore
Jimmy Savile sexually abuses transgender man
A transgender man comes forward alleging that Jimmy Savile 'stuck his hand up his nightdress' while he was a 17-year-old teenage girl at Broadmoor in the 1970's. More here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/15/jimmy-savile-timeline-abuse-allegations_n_1966426.html?1350304573#slide=1641388