Child abuse kept secret because insurers feared compensation claims

Jillings Report: Revealed after 17 years – child abuse kept secret because insurers feared compensation claims

Supressed account finds ‘appalling’ and ‘extensive’ history of abuse in North Wales in the 1970s and 80s

Jonathan Brown

Monday, 8 July 2013

Campaigners have warned that the authorities are still failing to tackle the epidemic of child abuse in Britain following the publication of a supressed report into “bestial” cruelty carried out at children’s homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 80s.

Survivors groups said valuable years had been lost following a decision by the now defunct Clwyd County Council to shelve the 1996 Jillings report which reveals how attempts to expose the scale of the scandal were constrained by police, social services and other agencies.

The two year inquiry uncovered an “appalling” and “extensive” history of child abuse – including buggery, assault, and cruelty – dating back two decades and culminating with a series of paedophile trials centring on the Bryn Estyn children’s home in Wrexham.

But its conclusions were suppressed for the past 17 years after fears by insurers that it could open the floodgates to compensation and libel claims.

Although finally made public following Freedom of Information requests by The Independent and others, the 300-page report is heavily redacted to blank out the names of any individuals suspected of wrongdoing.

Peter Saunders of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said:  “We hear from survivors that there are still perpetrators who are out there. They have been known about for a long time and they are still around.

“Abuse persists because of secrecy, fear, and failure to act or bring the truth out. Unless there is a very good reason, there is no excuse for the redaction of this report. It should be open and out there.”

A statement issued on behalf of six Welsh councils said the report did not name any suspected abuser who was unknown to the police.

Malcolm King, then chair of the council’s social services committee, said it was time for a Royal Commission to examine child abuse in Britain following this and other high profile cases including the Jimmy Savile affair.

“It is the same old, same old. It is the same lawyers and the same sort of everything that wants to suppress the truth.

“All sorts of legal reasons are made up for that but I don’t buy it. If we can’t tell the truth about what happened 30, 40 or 50 years ago then  what hope is there for telling the about today?” he said.

At least 12 young people are believed to have died as a result of the abuse they suffered whilst staying in the children’s homes.

Yet despite 10 previous internal inquiries the abuse continued.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said recent abuse scandals in Oxford and Rochdale showed lessons still needed to be learnt. “While some things have improved – particularly for those in care – there is a depressing realisation that in some areas nothing has moved on,” he said.

A council letter written to the Chief Constable of North Wales Police in 1991 included the names of eight convicted sex offenders and dozens of suspects.

The report said council employees and even serving police officers from the time could have been named as potential perpetrators of assaults by witnesses in 3,755 statements taken as part of what was described as the biggest police investigation into child abuse ever held in the UK.

At least 24 victims were identified. But the panel expressed concern that there was “no mechanism to ensure that independent investigations are conducted of allegations against former and serving police officers and that the police authorities handling of investigations can in some circumstances avoid public scrutiny.”

The authors said they considered abandoning their inquiry after being refused access to files and were obstructed by staff that declined to be interviewed. Documents were disordered, undated and unsigned. North Wales Police refused to hand over 130 boxes of files on the grounds they were sub-judice, it was claimed.

The report led by John Jillings, the former director of social services for Derbyshire, was carried out four years before the judicial inquiry ordered by the Welsh secretary William Hague – following revelations by The Independent – under Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC reached similar conclusions.

Mr Jillings said staff meted out severe punishments to disturbed youngsters. “The treatment of children was bestial really; they weren’t treated like human beings, by some members of staff at any rate,” he said.

Demands to finally publish the original inquiry findings were made at the height of the row over the BBC Newsnight report which made false child abuse allegations against former Tory Treasurer Lord McAlpine.

A new police inquiry is underway after 140 people came forward alleging historic abuse as a result of publicity surrounding the case.

The report said it was unable to cast light on the enduring suggestion that well known public figures were part of a wider paedophile ring operating in North Wales.–child-abuse-kept-secret-because-insurers-feared-compensation-claims-8695143.html#

BBC shuts down Thorn Tree travel forum on Lonely Planet website over ‘uncomfortable themes’

BBC strongly denied speculation discussions concerned paedophilia

Wednesday 26 December 2012

The message that currently greets visitors on the Thorn Tree forum web page

The commercial arm of the BBC has shut down its hugely popular forum for backpackers and travellers because “uncomfortable themes” were being discussed.

BBC Worldwide suspended the Thorn Tree forum on its Lonely Planet website on Saturday. It brought the travel guide company for a total of £132.2m in two deals in 2007 and 2011.

The closure has been met with consternation by travellers who would normally use the forum over the busy Christmas period to swap advice on methods of travel, hotels and hostels.

A BBC World wide spokesman strongly denied speculation that the “uncomfortable themes” were paedophilia.

“We’ve found no evidence of discussions concerning paedophilia on the Thorn Tree forum, but we have discovered instances of inappropriate language and themes,” he said.

“Until we are confident that all rogue posts can be identified and appropriate action taken, we feel we have no option but to temporarily close the site as a precautionary measure.”

He added that the forum would be closed for at least a week as all posts were gone through with a “fine tooth comb”.

“The forum will only return when we are 100 per cent confident that the right moderation systems are in place to ensure there’s no repeat of such language/themes. As you can appreciate, there’s a huge amount of content to be checked – so hard to put a timeline on when it will open again.”

According to newspapers in Australia an unnamed source from the Lonely Planet site said the decision to shut the forum was “all about Jimmy Savile”.

”They discovered that if you looked for terms like ‘paedophile’ or ‘child prostitution’, you got Thorn Tree hits,” the source told the Sydney Morning Herald.

”The hits are mostly discussions of current events or pointless stuff that would have been moderated, like ‘Barney the dinosaur is a big purple paedophile’. However, someone found a thread about ‘what’s the age of consent in Mexico?’ That really set them off.

”They went into full, freak-out, panic attack mode.”

The BBC paid £42.1m in February 2011 to acquire a final 25 per cent share of the Lonely Planet travel guide business, founded in 1972. It already owned 75 per cent following a £88.1m deal in 2007.

Thorn Tree is one of the biggest and most popular travel forums in the world, and users went online to express their anger at its sudden closure.

One traveller, Dustin Dolatowski, Tweeted: “You couldn’t have picked a worse time for closing the Thorn Tree forum.”

Another, Bruce Taylor, wrote: “The state of Lonely Planet is depressing. Shutting Thorn Tree is the latest eg of BBC clearly not understanding what they bought.”

The forum was however also well known for attracting trolls.

Jason Clampet, founder of the travel intelligence website Skift said:

“The best user forum in travel has always battled with trolls. This time, its parent company’s own sins are forcing it to take drastic actions where some careful pruning would do.”

Scotland Yard investigating allegations senior politicians abused children in the 1980s and used ‘connections’ to escape justice

Metropolitan Police’s child abuse investigation team have interviewed several adults who claim that they were sexually assaulted as children by MPs in a paedophile ring

Martin Hickman

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Scotland Yard detectives are looking into allegations that senior politicians abused children in the 1980s and escaped justice because they were protected by their powerful connections.

During past weeks officers from the Metropolitan Police’s child abuse investigation team have interviewed several adults who claim that they were sexually assaulted as children by MPs in a paedophile ring.

The team was set up following claims by Labour MP Tom Watson in the House Commons that the police should look afresh at claims of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10”.

Until today when the Metropolitan Police confirmed its existence, the inquiry, Operation Fairbank, had been operating in secret at the headquarters of the Child Abuse Investigation Team at Empress State Building in Earl’s Court, London.

Officers with the team, part of the Specialist Crimes and Operations Directorate, have spoken regularly to Mr Watson.

The Metropolitan Police stressed that Operation Fairbank was a “scoping exercise” aimed at a preliminary assessment of the evidence rather than a formal inquiry.

However, officers are understood to be taking the witnesses’s claims very seriously and are expected to make arrests in coming weeks.

Raising the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on 24 October, Mr Watson – who alleged widespread phone hacking at the News of the World before police began a new inquiry – urged police to re-open the evidence file on Peter Righton.

Righton, a former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau, was convicted of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material in 1992.

Saying that the file contained “clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring”, the MP said: “One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.

“The leads were not followed up, but if the files still exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.”

Five officers are working on the inquiry.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers have spoken with MP Tom Watson who has passed on some information which is now being looked into.

“As a result, officers are continuing to collate information. This is being assessed by officers under Operation Fairbank.
“We would continue to appeal to anyone who has concerns to report them to us. Any information is treated with the utmost seriousness and can be given in confidence.”
Updating the public on the investigation into alleged sexual offences in showbusiness, Scotland Yard said that the number of alleged sex abuse victims of the late BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile had reached 450.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of Operation Yewtree, suggested Savile – who escaped detection and died aged 84 last October – had been a serial abuser of children.

Commander Spindler said: “Savile’s offending peaked in the 70s and what we can show, or will be showing in the New Year, is how he used his position in society across the country – the crimes relate to 17 different police force areas – how he exploited this position to get his sexual gratification.”

In total, 589 alleged victims have come forward to allege abuse by Savile and others.

Over the past two months, detectives have arrested several high-profile names, including the comedian Freddie Starr, the former BBC disc jockey Dave Lee Travis, the former BBC producer Wilfred De’Ath and the publicist Max Clifford. They all deny any wrongdoing. Gary Glitter, who was also arrested, has not yet issued a statement.



Jimmy Savile scandal affects New York Times new boss:

Nov 17, 2012 22:05 Moscow Time

BBC director general George Entwistle making a statement to the media after giving evidence to Commons Culture Committee on BBC response to Jimmy Savile affair in London

BBC director general George Entwistle making a statement to the media after giving evidence to Commons Culture Committee on BBC response to Jimmy Savile affair in London
Photo: AFP

The New York Times has raised questions about what its newly minted chief executive officer knew about a pedophilia scandal at the BBC and when he knew it.

Thompson quit his post of BBC director-general in September and assumed his new perch at The Times on Monday.

However, Thompson faced allegations that he tried to prevent an expose by one of the network’s investigative programs into claims that children’s TV host Jimmy Savile routinely coerced teenage girls into having sex. Savile, who died in 2011, was one of the BBC’s biggest stars.

Thompson has maintained that he learned of the claims against Savile after leaving the BBC, but a legal letter indicates that he was aware of the accusations before he stepped down from his post. The Times Reporter Matthew Purdy writes that lawyers representing Thompson threatened to sue The Sunday Times over an article it was writing that claimed he had squelched his network’s investigative report on Savile’s sexual behavior. The letter was sent 10 days before Thompson resigned from the BBC.

“There were other moments during Mr. Thompson’s final months at the BBC – involving brief conversations and articles appearing in London news media – when he might have picked up on the gravity of the Savile case,” Purdy writes. “But the letter is different because it shows Mr. Thompson was involved in an aggressive action to challenge an article about the case that was likely to reflect poorly on the BBC and on him.”

After the story broke, speculation mounted that Thompson’s position at The Times might be in jeopardy.

Chicago Tribune

BBC reaches libel deal with Lord McAlpine

The BBC has reached a settlement with a former senior Conservative politician wrongly implicated in a child sex abuse case. Lord McAlpine will receive about $300,000 in damages and the terms of the agreement will be announced in court in a few days, his lawyers said.

The BBC has already apologized for linking McAlpine, a member of the House of Lords, to a child sex abuse that happened decades ago in Wales.

The mistaken report, broadcast nearly two weeks ago, has caused turmoil within BBC management ranks and led to the resignation of George Entwistle, its director general.

The head of the BBC’s Board of Trustees, Chris Patten, said that a major overhaul of the company leadership was imperative for the BBC to continue working efficiently.

Lord McAlpine: sex abuse allegations “complete rubbish”

Lord Alistair McAlpine, a former British politician who was wrongly implicated in child sexual abuse by the BBC “Newsnight” program was quoted on Thursday saying that the allegation was “complete rubbish”.

The former treasurer of the Conservative Party was not identified by name in the Nov2 edition of the program, but it triggered accusations on the Internet relating to a decades-old abuse case at a children’s home near Wrexham in North Wales.

The BBC has acknowledged that Lord McAlpine was not contacted by “Newsnight” to comment on the allegation. His accuser, Steve Messham, a former resident of the children’s home, has withdrawn his accusation and apologized.

“Of course they should have called me and I would have told them exactly what they learnt later on,” Lord McAlpine said in excerpts from the interview posted on the BBC Web site. “That it was complete rubbish and that I’d only ever been to Wrexham once in my life. They could have saved themselves a lot of agonizing and money, actually, if they’d just made that telephone call.”

Lord McAlpine is now seeking a financial settlement with the BBC and redress from anyone who impugned his reputation either in the media or on the Internet.

The scandal forced the resignation of BBC’s director general, George Entwistle.

Voice of Russia, New York Times

BBC going through crisis of purpose and identity – McShane

Denis MacShane, former British Labour Minnister, shared his opinion with the Voice of Russia on the reasons for the BBC decay and talks about how the image of the company may recover.

British public institutions – whether it’s parliament, it’s government, it’s police, it’s media – seem to be going through a very big crisis of purpose and identity and the bad, bad mistakes that some journalists made by making allegations about now long retired politician that he was a pedophile is a symptom, I think, of this malaise. But the BBC as a whole is a very important, trusted world broadcaster and I’m sure it’ll come through this crisis.

But I’m sure that in the aftermath the public image of the company will be hurt pretty much by the scandal. How soon do you think they will recover?

BBC will recover very quickly if it returns to what is basic in its purposes, which is to provide very accurate and honest information. There is no other broadcaster in the world that is so unbiased or on the whole takes more care over the information it broadcast, whether it on World TV News or BBC World Service or domestic news. This was a very, very single big era by one editor and he will pay a price. And indeed it’s to the honour of the BBC that its director general, who knew nothing about the program, that he accepts responsibility. How many times do TV programs in Russia, or France, or America, or Al Jazeera, or any of them put out wrong information and then the actual boss of the whole organization resigns? That I think is to a tribute to the way that BBC is taking this seriously and will deal with it honourably rather than playing people further down the chain of editorial hierarchy.

Settlement between BBC and McAlpine probable

A settlement between Alistair McAlpine, a high-ranking Conservative politician of Margaret Thatcher’s times, wrongly implicating to child sex abuse occurred in Wales decades ago, and the BBC is probable, McAlpine’s lawyer Andrew Reid said.

The BBC has already apologized to McAlpine for the accusations claimed in a report broadcast during the BBC Newsnight program November 2. The mistaken report led to the resignation of the BBC director general.

McAlpine told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday that BBC never contacted him to try to verify the report, otherwise “they could have saved themselves a lot of agonizing, and money.”

UK regulator probes BBC, ITV on abuse programmes

Britain’s media regulator said on Thursday it had started investigations into the airing of child abuse allegations by the BBC and ITV.

The BBC and ITV have both started their own disciplinary proceedings after false allegations were aired earlier this month against a leading Conservative Party figure from the 1980s who has threatened to sue for damages.

“The first (investigation) relates to a Newsnight report broadcast on 2 November into child sex abuse allegations,” Ofcom said in a statement.

“The second relates to the disclosure of a list of individuals alleged to be linked to child sex abuse on ITV’s This Morning, broadcast on 8 November,” it added in a statement.

Voice of Russia, RT, Reuters

‘BBC going through crisis of purpose and identity’

Sergey Duz

Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) George Entwistle has resigned after just 54 days in office amid a scandal over unverified child abuse allegations that proved to be wrong. Mr Entwistle, who took office the middle of September, became the shortest-serving BBC chief.

Earlier, the BBC Newsnight program alleged that an unnamed high-ranking Conservative politician of Margaret Thatcher’s times was implicated in child sex abuse. The man was soon identified on the Internet as Lord Alistair McAlpine. The latter angrily rejected the allegations and threatened with a defamation lawsuit. The next day, Entwistle publicly acknowledged that the report had not been checked and offered apologies on the part of the BBC.

The scandal came on the heels of sensational revelations that a popular BBC host, Jimmy Savile, who died last autumn at the age of 84, had abused underage teens for years. Newsnight prepared a special edition on Savile’s child abuse, but it never went on the air. So it did seem to many that on the one hand the BBC was covering up real criminals, while on the other it was wrongfully defaming decent people.

Unfortunately, Entwistle fell hostage to the situation that had shaped long before he took over as BBC director general. A former BBC employee, Konstantin Eggert, told the Voice of Russia that a reform of the BBC is long overdue. He believes that the trouble with the BBC is that it is poorly adapted to the realities of the modern media market.

“On the one hand, BBC should be absolutely unbiased and thoroughly check all its sources. Even when it conducts journalist probes it should stick to serious regulations stipulated by its basics, including the Royal Charter.

On the other hand, BBC faces competition with other media which is quite tough. Adherence to strict rules on sensations will limit the Corporation’s competitiveness.

Thus, BBC somehow wanted to use the child abuse scandal which is underway in the UK.

Its flagship Newsnight, similar to Russian current affairs programs, wanted to conduct its own investigation but, in my opinion, it hastened.

Thus, Mr Entwistle’s quit is quite an adequate reaction to the situation.”

The British public reacts very sensitively to any scandal surrounding the BBC because the company is being financed through a so-called annual license fee paid by every Brit who owns a TV set. In other words, almost every British family is a kind of BBC sponsor. The level of the fee is set by the government, but its real cost is being pushed down by inflation. Two years ago, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to freeze the license fee, motivating his decision by economic crisis. Combined with other spending cuts, it may slash BBC financing by nearly 25% over four years. In short, the desperately needed reforms are being hampered by a mere lack of funds.

One cannot but feel pity for George Entwistle. He behaved like a gentleman, driven by his own sense of responsibility the way he saw it. But emotions left aside, the British government should share the blame. Because of Premier Cameron’s stinginess, Britain risks losing its number one broadcaster with an 85-year-old history, which has become a national symbol and a stronghold of independent and competent journalism.

BBC going through crisis of purpose and identity – McShane

Denis MacShane, former British Labour Minnister, shared his opinion with the Voice of Russia on the reasons for the BBC decay and talks about how the image of the company may recover.

British public institutions – whether it’s parliament, it’s government, it’s police, it’s media – seem to be going through a very big crisis of purpose and identity and the bad, bad mistakes that some journalists made by making allegations about now long retired politician that he was a pedophile is a symptom, I think, of this malaise. But the BBC as a whole is a very important, trusted world broadcaster and I’m sure it’ll come through this crisis.

But I’m sure that in the aftermath the public image of the company will be hurt pretty much by the scandal. How soon do you think they will recover?

BBC will recover very quickly if it returns to what is basic in its purposes, which is to provide very accurate and honest information. There is no other broadcaster in the world that is so unbiased or on the whole takes more care over the information it broadcast, whether it on World TV News or BBC World Service or domestic news. This was a very, very single big era by one editor and he will pay a price. And indeed it’s to the honour of the BBC that its director general, who knew nothing about the program, that he accepts responsibility. How many times do TV programs in Russia, or France, or America, or Al Jazeera, or any of them put out wrong information and then the actual boss of the whole organization resigns? That I think is to a tribute to the way that BBC is taking this seriously and will deal with it honourably rather than playing people further down the chain of editorial hierarchy.

Journalism standards slipping – expert

Yekaterina Kudashkina

Charlie Beckett, a media expert with the London School of Economics, speaks on the recent scandal that has shaken Britain’s traditional broadcaster BBC and changes we might see in journalism

This latest crisis is certainly not the first time. Like any good journalistic organization the BBC has in the past had clashes with Government, it had clashes with companies or individuals because that’s the nature of good journalism. But in this case it was actually the journalism itself that was at fault. And it wasn’t just that there was particular mad mistake made, I mean that was bad enough, but there was a sense that the management system of editorial decision making at the BBC wasn’t working properly – that they didn’t take up on the risks involved, they didn’t oversee standards properly and then when things went wrong they didn’t respond properly to that either. So, you can see that in that sense Chris Patten is right that it is worth looking at the way the BBC runs internally as well as just trying to find out which journalist made a mistake.

As the member of the trade I can see that journalism standards are generally becoming lower everywhere across the globe, in the eastern and the western parts of the world. But the reforms are always a painful process. If we are talking about the decision making within the BBC – this system has operated during the best times of the corporation. Perhaps it would need something less than just playing reforming.

Well, I think that actually there is a lot of terrific journalism out there in the world. You only have to read great magazines like the Economist. And there is a lot of choice out there and now we’ve got Al Jazeera, people like the Voice of Russia as well as the big traditional companies like the BBC. But the BBC, like all of the journalists today, is facing an upheaval because of new media, because of political pressure, because of economic pressure. It is facing cutbacks in its budget and is having to doubt this whole new media environment. So, it is not surprising that in this time of change sometimes standards are going to slip. And there is a fear that overall standards will slip if people have their budgets reduced too much or if there is too much pressure on people to make a profit. So, I think one of the key tasks for the BBC is to make sure that journalistic standards right across the board, not just for investigative journalism, are maintained.

To think of the short term – we are going to see quite a few faces being changed, we are going to see new people coming in. And I think that would be one of the best things if the BBC was able to bring in people from outside because a lot of people understand that the BBC worked all their lives, they love the place and they aren’t doing it just for the money – they do it because they believe in what they are doing, they believe in that kind of objective journalism. But there is a danger that you do get at closed system. So, I think it would be great if the BBC could try and bring in more people to all levels, but especially in the leadership who have got a more critical perspective and fresh ideas.

Feeling of incompetence growing inside BBC

Yekaterina Kudashkina

Former BBC journalist Stephen Dalziel talks on the internal crisis widening inside BBC

It is certainly not the first scandal that the BBC has faced. But I would suggest it is actually the most serious that it’s faced. When you effectively accuse a former Government minister of something as serious as child abuse – wouldn’t it be crazy? Not always certainly because we are alking about sex abuse of children here and that’s what the accusation was. And that is a very very serious accusation because that can destroy someone’s reputation. And even if it is not true people think that there is no smoke without fire. So, this is a very serious offence the BBC has committed. So, the fact that it is so serious means that they do have to do something now.

But it is, as you say, not the first time there’s been a problem. And I think it shows a growing feeling inside the BBC of carelessness, of incompetence. I worked on the BBC for 16 years, from 1988 to 2004, and even then there used to be a half-joke, because there was always some truth in it, that bosses were always promoted two levels above their level of competency. Unfortunately, you do get a lot of incompetent bosses on the BBC because there is a relative low pay ceiling if you are a journalist or a producer. And you may be very good at that, you may be a very good journalist, you may be a very good producer but maybe you want to go on to make more money. And the only way you could earn more money on the BBC if you weren’t one of the top star presenters, the only way you could earn more money would be going to management.

Now, you may be a very good journalist but that certainly doesn’t qualify you as a good manager and you probably weren’t properly trained as a manager either. And so, I can remember a number of my bosses at the BBC whom I’ve known as journalists who then switched to being managers. And they were awful. And now I’ve worked in the private sector in business as well as on the BBC and I can make comparisons. And what tends to happen to the private sector – you used to get some bad managers but they tend to get sacked. On the BBC they genuinely do tend to get moved up. It is rather like, I’ll give a comparison, like Boris Yeltsin’s Government in Russia in the 1990’es. They often removed people from certain posts and very few of them were then just kicked out completely. They were shuffled around, they were put somewhere else. And I think this comparison is quite well actually with the way things work at the BBC.

And we often hear when there are these scandals, either in the media or in many public institutions, of organizational reform, structural reform, some sort of systematic reform. Is it something that is really about personalities or is it something in the process and the procedures of how managers are assessed, how they are chosen? Or is it very much a culture in the institution?

I think it is a bit of a mixture of all those. And I think that the BBC really does need to look to the way it finds and appoints its managers. I think taking many of them from their own ranks, who have been journalists or producers, studio managers perhaps, I think this kind of underlines and I’ve certainly realized that for a long term it doesn’t necessarily work. You want who’ve got managerial experience and if you are going to pay them large sums of money, then you need to pay them for managerial skills which don’t come cheap and that’s fair enough.

I think there is another very important element that should be considered here and that is that the BBC, I would put it as strongly as saying – suffering from developments in modern media which have led it to drop to some of its previously cast iron standards. When I joined the BBC, I was in the World Service, and I think the World Service was always very strict on standards. I joined back in 1988. And for example as a rule – if you were writing something for the radio, and particularly because we were then were talking much about radio and I went to do a lot of television afterwards, but if you were writing a script to the person who’s just given an interview, then you would always get what we called “the second pair of eyes”. You get someone else to look at it because even if you write well and you know your subject, sometimes you write things that make a certain assumption that the general listener or viewer might not know, so you get someone else to look at it so that they can say – what do you mean by that. And little things like that but important things to make sure that what went out was only truthful and accurate but clear.

And I think things like that have been lost. And one of the biggest problems, as you said that they are the victims of modern media, is because you now get so much pressure and the speed of media has increased incredibly because you’ve got 24 hour news and you’ve got breaking news. And when I was there we had an email coming around one day from the head of News Gathering, News Gathering was the organization which, and the name suggests it, gathered news for all parts of the BBC. And then the News Gathering wrote saying how wonderful it was that the BBC TV had got on the air with the story 30 seconds ahead of Sky TV. The only person who is going to know that is some TV executive sitting in an office with the bank of televisions in front of him. I actually had this conversation with a lot of people at the time and they said – hang on, it is not about speed, it is about accuracy and it is far more important. I don’t care whether the Sky gets there an hour before the BBC does as long as the BBC gets it right.

And that sort of mentality has come in and as I say it is not entirely the BBC’s fault but I think that they ought to take a step back and say that actually it should be about standards here. And it is used to be the case also when I worked for the BBC. My title was Russian Affairs Analyst and we had a department within News Gathering in World Service which employed specialists on certain parts of the world. So, I covered Russia, we had an American specialist, we had a Chinese specialist and African specialist, Indian specialist, defense correspondent, diplomatic correspondent. And so we were there and the correspondent on the ground might say this has happened. And then we come to ask for an analysis of why it happened – and because we were specialists, that’s what we were doing all the time, we knew this subject.

My pose was closed in 2004 that’s why I left the BBC. And I said – look I do Russia and I’ll carry on doing Russian and that’s why I went in the business involved with Russia. But it is that coming down of broadcasting, far more important it seems now just to get the story out and actually if you make a few mistakes, if you don’t get the in-depth analysis or it doesn’t really matter as long as we got that first – and that I think is terrible. And I hope, I can’t say I’ll hold my breath on this, but I hope as a result of all this the BBC might actually go back and look at standards across the corporation and say – what are we doing and how are we doing it.

To do that the BBC must be confronting two major trends. One trend is, like you said, something that it should reconsider approaches. But those approaches are general. On the other hand there is another trend which implies that managers should be managers regardless of the trade they are operating in, I mean professional standards of trade are not really considered to be the dominant consideration when they are appointing top managers to a company. Well, you know what I’m talking about, definitely. So, do you think that the BBC might be fit to counter those two major trends?

I just wish that it would have the courage to do it. I hear exactly what you are saying and I agree, I mean that the phrase “coming down” I think can be applied across media and across all media organizations. And I think it is a great shame, I mean I very rarely read a newspaper in Britain now because whereas a few years ago I knew I’d get good journalism and while written it’ll be accurate and now it is so much sensationism, the cult to the celebrities and so on. All I can but regret that.

But I think in terms of the BBC News, the BBC should have the courage, and it is a question of courage to take exactly what you said and say – hang on, we are the BBC, we are the benchmark, we are the oldest broadcasting organization in the world, we are the most respected broadcasting organization in the world, we are the best known broadcasting organization in the world and we have a duty to ourselves and our listeners and viewers therefore to maintain the higher standards. And if that means that we are slightly slower with the news but we get it right, but we provide people with analysis that we put actually into a good context, then so be it. That should be the priority.

And I just wish that if the new bosses coming in or indeed the present ones should take a long hard look at themselves and say – this is what we should be about, we shouldn’t just be about competing with that 30 seconds we-were-there-first but we should be about getting it right and making sure that people trust us and turn to us for news when something happens.

True! And the BBC is not really bound by considerations of profit making, is it?

No, it is not. And quite right that it shouldn’t be.

Which definitely gives a lot of competitive advantage.

And certainly the program in question – the News Night – this is sort of one of the forefront, if you like, sometimes of the regular investigative programs. So, certainly you need people that are going to make those daring decisions and being able to broadcast those things. And it is in a way quite ironic…

But it is about facts checking.

Yes, but in one sense they were being castigated for not broadcasting something about Jimmy Savile and they were castigated for broadcasting something inaccurate about the MP in North Wales. So, it seems to be that you need a very strong sort of system to be able to make those judgment clauses accurately and people with the courage to backup their judgment and to be able to do that.

You do. And I think it shows that there are the two opposites they’ve had with news and it just shows what a mess the situation has got into. What I’m afraid is going to happen, I mean at the same time I hope they’d have the courage to do, but what I’m afraid is going to happen is that they will take a far too heavy handed approach. And so you would see as a result actually weak and boring and uninteresting journalism because people will be too afraid to try and be bold and actually ask challenging questions, they’ll feel that the boss above them will say – oh no, we can’t touch that, that is too risky.

What they need to do is, in the case of the North Wales child abuse program all they had to do was actually go to the person who effectively was being accused of this before they broadcasted. You take your sources, that is who is saying this, and then one of the simple things to do is just show the man who had been or claims to being abused by someone show him the photos and say – is this a man who did it – because as soon as he saw a photo he said – no, it wasn’t him. And that is very simple to check your sources, I mean that should be the foundation of any news organization for their broadcasting, unless it is some sort of completely rubbish newspaper.

But if just purely theoretically, could it be that in this particular case a journalist took every precaution but then the witness was intimidated somehow?

It is not beyond the possibility but I think that the fact that the witness came out very quickly and having seen the photograph said – oh, no – and apologized. And he apologized apparently quite freely, I mean we don’t know of other things. But in any case the fact that they didn’t then check with Lord McAlpine and said – excise me, this is an implication, it is going to go out in a program and have you anything to say – that would have saved a lot of embracement and some people’s jobs.

As I said earlier, this is such a damning condemnation and such an awful accusation to make that with things like that you have to make sure that you are absolutely right. It is not just getting a figure wrong, you know. Was it ten billion or was it twenty billion for some business story? This is a person’s reputation being put on the line. And I would be not at all surprised if he does go ahead and sue the BBC and sue the journalist himself because of this “no smoke without fire” some people will still be thinking – but why was he mentioned in the first place – which is a terrible thing to happen. So, that is a question of basic journalistic standards which it wouldn’t have been difficult to check.

Absolutely! But this is just the implication of the general trend when information has been devalued.

It is. But I think there is also another problem, I mean actually the journalists who made the story were working on contract for the BBC. They weren’t actually the BBC journalists, it was an independent production company. But they seem to being imbued with another thing which I would call it a problem, some people might say it is an issue, but I would say it is a problem at the BBC, and particularly at the BBC television for many years – and that is that there is a long being assessment arrogance about the BBC television.

I used to describe it when I worked for the BBC as saying – if you walk into Bush House which was then, sadly no longer, but then the home of the World Service – you would find that the atmosphere was very friendly and if you look lost someone will come up to you and say – excuse me, hello! Can I help you? Whereas when you walk into the Television Center, and it is still the case, you walk in TV Center and you see people that look away from looking at you and it is kind of – who the hell are you? And there is a certain arrogance to certain BBC journalists, and particularly in television or in Domestic Radio.

By the way, this is really a very bad trap which people tend to undervalue too. This is something which I think results in this type of blunders which are absolutely stupid.

I fully agree! This is the trouble. Once you start thinking that you know better than anyone else – that’s when you become careless, you don’t check your sources. While this whole affair has saddened me greatly because having worked for the BBC, I mean I had a fantastic time for 16 years, I worked with some wonderful and very creative and intelligent people and the organization is still close to my heart in many way. So, I’ve got no pleasure in any way at all as of it, it saddened me greatly that this has happened. Whilst I could have pinpointed it to being this particular story, in some way it doesn’t surprise me – and that’s the unfortunate thing. It doesn’t surprise because of, as I say, a combination of the pressure of 24 hour news, the arrogance of certain BBC journalists and also incompetent bosses throughout the organization, I’m afraid.

Well, I hope this brings you at least some relief to know that this is a universal situation.

Not really, to be honest. I just wish that people would have the courage anywhere, be it Russia or Britain or anywhere, to actually say – don’t forget the quality, don’t forget standards. I mean I hate the cult of celerity, I very rarely watch television these days. It normally has to involve 22 Manchester footballers around the field for me to watch the television. Television potentially is the most wonderful medium for educating people, for bringing something new into people’s lives and far too often it is used to the lowest common denominator.

BBC Chief resigned after false sex abuse claim

This weekend saw the resignation of the BBC’s Director General – the only recently appointed George Entwistle. Mr. Entwistle resigned following a broadcast which falsely accused a Conservative peer of child abuse. It’s all part of the internal fall-out within the BBC concerning the journalistic standards applied to the complex allegations surrounding the TV presenter Jimmy Saville. The whole affair has raised important issues about standards in journalism and the effect of rumours spreading on social media.

As head of the BBC George Entwistle was also its editor-in-chief and it was under his ages that an award-winning news program called Newsnight broadcast allegations linking a senior political man to a pedophile ring in North Wales. Unfortunately, the Newsnight journalist made a serious mistake. They didn’t corroborate the evidence which lead to Lord McAlpine, a former treasurer of the Conservative Party, being labeled as “a pedophile”. Advanced publicity for the Newsnight report led to a flurrying speculation on the Internet and social media, which led many people to believe that Lord McAlpine was guilty of child abuse. This is now known to be completely untrue. Apart from the internal damage this has done to BBC’s reputation, the case is also calling into question the legal issues surrounding social media. Well-known journalists at the Guardian and ITN and personalities, including the wife of the House of Commons Speaker repeated the slander on Twitter. Charlie Beckett has 20 years’ experience of international journalism at BBC and ITN’s channel for news and is director of the Department of Media Communications at the London School of Economics.

On this story the fault was nothing to do with social media. The fault was made by traditional journalist. And, of course, all journalists, including me have made mistakes in the past. The trouble is that this one was particularly colossal thing to get wrong. Journalism is all about getting your facts and then communicating it to somebody else.

David Banks is a journalist and media law expert.

Most of news organizations wouldn’t find themselves in a situation like this. If you are carrying serious allegations against someone, you have to prove it, you confront them with allegations to make and you see what they’ve got to say. Why it didn’t happen in this situation – I don’t know. The target of these allegations wasn’t followed through.

Charlie Beckett explains why the story is so complex.

You really do need to make sure that you’ve got your facts, not just to your satisfaction, but so that you can prove other people that what you’re saying is true. You have to be quite tough on your own story. And then, of course, you have to be honest enough to go to the person you’re accusing of something and say to them, “Look, is this true or now?” And you have to let them make their case, because you may be wrong. This story got even more complicated, because it was linker to social media.

The editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has also left his job, because he commented on Twitter before the broadcast that Newsnight is going to link a senior political figure with pedophilia. Patrick Smith is editor and analyst at The Media Briefing.

They should have been sure of their facts, check them and name the person or they should have found out what the actual story was. It seems to be that they’ve done a little bit of neither. They’ve actually ended up implicating an innocent man without any evidence at all. The trouble is that they tried to hype by saying, “We’re going to name someone later,” which instinctively got everyone thinking about who it is. And it didn’t take people very long to find out who it might be, Philip Schofield made a list of people he got from the Internet within three minutes. I’m not even sure that social media is to blame here. I think it’s old-fashioned journalistic values. You should be sure of your facts before you publish and Twitter is publishing! With traditional news gathering, there’s a chain of command. That turns completely on its head, when a journalist can say something directly to the audience in the matter of seconds. And it takes just a couple of thumb-clicks to potentially label somebody. That’s something really new. If I was in charge at the BBC or other big news organization, I’d be having a chat right around now to moralize everybody about those risks.

Media law expert David Banks says it’s very difficult to legally control what takes place on social media.

It’s one of the main challenges. Earlier the process publishing was in hands of very relatively narrow group of media organizations, publishers, broadcasters. And the fact now is that it has democratized. Now publication is in hands of millions of people. It changes the way in which disinformation laws are being looked at. Parliament should look at it and amend it. That’s going to be very difficult, and there’ll be a lot of hostility infusing legal controls on what people can talk about in social media.

It’s understood, Lord McAlpine is considering seeking damages from the BBC and suing people who named him on Twitter.

Is a 450,000 pound payout too much?

British MPs consider unreasonable the 450,000 pound payout to BBC Director General George Entwistle who stepped down last Saturday due to a scandal about the Newsnight programme in which well-known politician Lord Alistair McAlpine was wrongly accused of pedophilia.

John Whittingdale, the head of the Conservative faction in Parliament, asked the BBC Board of Trustees to explain why they found this size of payout reasonable. This request was supported by Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

BBC director of news and deputy step aside

The two most senior figures at BBC News stepped aside on Monday a day after the chairman of the broadcaster’s governing body said it needed a radical overhaul to survive a child sex abuse scandal, it said.

Helen Boaden, the director of BBC News, and her deputy Steve Mitchell, stepped aside two days after the director general quit to take the blame for the airing of false child sex abuse allegations against a former politician.

The BBC’s press office said it could not yet confirm the news but the BBC said on its news website that there would be an announcement later in the day.

The development is the latest blow to the corporation, which has been thrown into turmoil by revelations about a historic child sex abuse scandal and the broadcaster’s problems with reporting the issue.

George Entwistle resigned as general director on Saturday, just two months into the job, to take responsibility for a report aired by the flagship Newsnight programme which wrongly accused a former politician of also being involved in child abuse.

Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said on Sunday that he would work quickly to find a replacement for Entwistle while leading a radical overhaul of the corporation.

BBC Chief Entwistle’s paycheck rises doubts among UK media officials

The BBC Trust on Sunday approved a £450,000 pay-off for Mr Entwistle, equal to a full year’s salary, saying it reflected the fact that he would “continue to help on BBC business”, including two inquiries into the Savile affair.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said he wanted an explanation of the payment. “A lot of people will be very surprised that somebody who was in the job for such a short period of time and then had to leave in these circumstances should be walking away with £450,000 of licence fee payers’ money,” he told the Press Association.

Lord Patten, the former chairman of the Conservative party, said he would not respond to calls for his resignation that had appeared in some Sunday newspapers.

“I think my job is to make sure that we now learn the lessons from the crisis,” he said. “If I don’t do that and don’t restore huge confidence and trust in the BBC then I’m sure people will tell me to take my cards and clear off,” he said. “But I will not take my marching orders from Mr Murdoch’s newspapers.”

‘BBC must reform or face uncertain future’ (VIDEO)

Britain’s BBC must undergo a radical overhaul in the wake of “shoddy” journalism which led to the resignation of its chief or its future will be in doubt, the head of the state-funded broadcaster’s governing body said on Sunday.

Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said opponents of the BBC, especially Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, would take advantage of the turmoil to up the pressure on its long-term rival.

“If you’re saying, does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul, then absolutely it does and that is what we will have to do,” Patten, a one-time senior figure in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party and the last British governor of Hong Kong, told BBC TV.

BBC Director General George Entwistle resigned late on Saturday just two months into the job, after the corporation’s flagship news programme aired mistaken allegations of child sex abuse against a former leading politician.

Already under pressure after revelations that a long-time star presenter had been a paedophile, Entwistle quit saying the unacceptable standards of the Newsnight report had damaged the public’s confidence in the 90-year-old BBC.

“As the director general of the BBC, I am ultimately responsible for all content as the editor-in-chief, and I have therefore decided that the honourable thing for me to do is to step down,” he said.

Patten joined critics who said a complex hierarchical management structure at the BBC was partly to blame. One of the BBC’s most prominent journalists Jeremy Paxman, a Newsnight presenter, said in recent years, management had become bloated while cash was cut from programme budgets.

“He (Entwistle) has been brought low by cowards and incompetents,” Paxman said in a statement.

Patten, in charge of finding a successor to sort out the turmoil at an institution affectionately known as “Auntie”, said changes needed to be made after describing the Newsnight journalism as “shoddy”.

BBC director of news and deputy step aside

The two most senior figures at BBC News stepped aside on Monday a day after the chairman of the broadcaster’s governing body said it needed a radical overhaul to survive a child sex abuse scandal, it said.

Helen Boaden, the director of BBC News, and her deputy Steve Mitchell, stepped aside two days after the director general quit to take the blame for the airing of false child sex abuse allegations against a former politician.

The BBC’s press office said it could not yet confirm the news but the BBC said on its news website that there would be an announcement later in the day.

The development is the latest blow to the corporation, which has been thrown into turmoil by revelations about a historic child sex abuse scandal and the broadcaster’s problems with reporting the issue.

George Entwistle resigned as general director on Saturday, just two months into the job, to take responsibility for a report aired by the flagship Newsnight programme which wrongly accused a former politician of also being involved in child abuse.

Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said on Sunday that he would work quickly to find a replacement for Entwistle while leading a radical overhaul of the corporation.

BBC Director-General resigns over misguided Newsnight broadcast

In a statement Mr Entwistle said: “I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down.” Earlier, Mr Entwistle said the BBC Television program Newsnight, which wrongly implicated a former conservative politician, Lord McAlpine, in a child sex abuse scandal, should never have been broadcast.

The program covered cases of child abuse at North Wales child care homes. Mr Entwistle took up the post of director general on 17 September.

In his statement, Mr Entwistle, who was appointed to the post less than two months ago, said: “In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor in chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general.”

The offending Newsnight program came on the heels of the Jimmy Savile crisis, which was erupted after Newsnight had shelved an earlier investigation into allegations of child abuse.

In October at a parliamentary hearing Mr Entwistle was accused by MPs of showing “an extraordinary lack of curiosity” over the Jimmy Savile affair and was told to “get a grip”.

The BBC still faces very serious questions, not just about its journalism but about how the organisation is run.

BBC leader resigns in wake of scandal

BBC Director General George Entwistle has stepped down over a scandal connected with Lord Alistair McAlpine, falsely suspected by the company of being involved in pedophilia in the 1980s.

This was reported by the BBC on Sunday night. “I have decided the honorable thing is to step down from the post,” – said the journalist.

Entwistle was appointed Director General of the BBC on September 17, 2012, only to resign 54 days later in the wake of the biggest scandal in the history of the information group.

The scandal, which began with allegations against a single former BBC employee, has since engulfed hospitals, children’s homes, even the police.

It also poses questions for Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s immediate predecessor, who on Monday becomes chief executive of The New York Times.

For an entire week, one of the BBC’s key news shows suggested a leading Conservative party politician, who wasn’t named, had been involved in the rape of a young boy in Wales decades ago. The man accused denied it; the victim himself now says it was a case of mistaken identity.

Many networks ran interviews with the victim – one even asked whether a pedophile network had been protected by a masonic conspiracy. Did a judge who led an early inquiry into the abuse at a North Wales children’s home deliberately hide the names of famous or influential abusers?

In front of one million television viewers, a morning TV host handed a list of alleged pedophiles to the British Prime Minister David Cameron live on air. That list, allegedly including the names of other senior politicians, was compiled based on unsubstantiated Internet rumors.

The revelation that all of this was a mistake is once again causing Britain’s media organizations to question their own values, only months after news of newspaper phone-hacking. It has filled Britain with outrage, astonishment and self-doubt.

The scandal had begun with separate claims that BBC – one of the most respected brands in journalism worldwide – had failed to expose the late BBC children’s television personality and fundraiser, Jimmy Savile, as a pedophile even though it had interviewed several victims who made allegations against the star.

It’s now clear those allegations are well founded. Yet the same BBC program, ‘Newsnight’, that shelved the original and apparently accurate Savile story was the first to broadcast the latest false allegations.

‘Newsnight’ has apologized on air for its mistake, another inquiry has been launched, and the program has temporarily suspended all its investigatory work. On Saturday, Entwistle, who took his post in September, resigned in response to the growing scandal after a humiliating interviewon the BBC’s own flagship radio news program, ‘Today’. The BBC is in crisis.

Entwistle only succeeded Mark Thompson, set to take over as chief executive of the New York Times Co, in September and almost immediately faced one of the biggest crises in the history of the BBC, funded by a licence fee paid by TV viewers.

This was the revelation by rival broadcaster ITV that the late Jimmy Savile, one of the most recognisable personalities on British television in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, had sexually abused young girls, some on BBC premises.

Suggestions then surfaced of a paedophile ring inside the BBC at the time, and a cover-up. Police have launched an inquiry and detectives said they had arrested their third suspect on Sunday, a man in his 70s from Cambridgeshire in central England.

Entwistle was condemned for the BBC’s slow response to the Savile furore and then lambasted after it emerged that Newsnight had axed a planned expose into Savile shortly after his death and that the broadcaster had gone ahead with tributes instead.

His appearance before a parliamentary committee provoked mockery, with one lawmaker saying he had shown a “lamentable lack of knowledge” of what was going on at his own organisation.

Thompson has also faced questions from staff at the New York Times over whether he is still the right person to take one of the biggest jobs in American newspaper publishing.

The knives were out for Entwistle on Friday after the BBC apologised for the mistaken allegation that an ex-politician, later identified on the Internet as a close ally of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, had abused children, and had not asked him for a comment before broadcast.

The last straw came when Entwistle was forced to admit on BBC radio that he had not been told about the Newsnight report before it aired nor known – or asked – who the alleged abuser was until the name appeared in social media.

Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry: third man arrested: “a former BBC producer, Wilfred De’Ath”

Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry: third man arrested

Man in his 70s from Cambridgeshire, reported to be former BBC producer, arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and bailed

Jimmy Savile

Jimmy Savile is at the centre of sexual abuse allegations. Photograph: Getty Images

A man arrested by police investigating sexual abuse claims against Jimmy Savile and others has been bailed.

The man is reported to be a former BBC producer, Wilfred De’Ath. The man, in his 70s, from Cambridgeshire, was detained at 7.15am on Sunday and released on police bail until December after several hours of questioning.

He is the third man to be detained under Operation Yewtree, the criminal inquiry being conducted by the Metropolitan police and the NSPCC.

The Met said the man “falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed ‘others'”.

He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and taken into police custody locally, Scotland Yard said.

The arrest came nine days after the arrest and bail of the comedian Freddie Starr, and two weeks after Gary Glitter  was questioned. Glitter, 68, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was arrested at home and questioned at a London police station before being released on bail until mid-December.

UK PM warns of witch-hunt against gays in pedophile scandal

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Thursday that speculation about the identity of an unidentified member of his ruling Conservative party accused of sexually abusing children could turn into a witch-hunt against gay people.

Cameron, who leads a troubled two-party coalition, ordered an investigation this week after a victim of child sexual abuse in Wales said a prominent Conservative political figure had abused him during the 1970s.

The claims, which follow the unmasking of late BBC star presenter Jimmy Savile as one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, have stoked concern that a powerful pedophile ring may have operated in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I have heard all sorts of names bandied around and what then tends to happen is of course that everyone then sits around and speculates about people, some of whom are alive, some of whom are dead,” Cameron said during an ITV television interview.

“It is very important that anyone who has got any information about any pedophile no matter how high up in the country go to the police,” he said.

Britain’s interior minister warned lawmakers this week that if they named suspected child abusers in parliament they risked jeopardizing future trials.

MPs benefit from “parliamentary privilege” – meaning they can speak inside parliament freely without fear of legal action on a host of legally sensitive issues that might otherwise attract lawsuits.

Reports of child abuse have provoked fevered speculation on the Internet about the identity of the Conservative figure from the era of Margaret Thatcher, prime minister from 1979 to 1990.

When the ITV interviewer passed Cameron a piece of paper with the names of people identified on the Internet as being alleged child abusers, Cameron said:

“There is a danger if we are not careful that this could turn into a sort of witch-hunt particularly against people who are gay.”

“I am worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now – giving me a list of names you have taken off the Internet,” Cameron said.

The BBC aired a program last week in which Steven Messham, one of hundreds of victims of sexual abuse at children’s care homes in Wales over two decades, said he had been sexually abused by a prominent Conservative political figure.

However, the BBC reporter said he could not name the figure because there was “simply not enough evidence to name names”.


Tory paedophile scandal: will MPs use privilege to name X?

Meanwhile X himself tells Telegraph the sex abuse  allegations are ‘totally without any grounds’

Column LAST UPDATED AT 09:52 ON Tue 6 Nov  2012

EDITOR’S NOTE at 1.20pm: Home Secretary Theresa May warned MPs not to  use Parliamentary privilege to name any suspects including ‘X’ because “they  will risk jeopardising any future trial”. As a result, no MPs named names in the  chamber today, but they could do so in written Parliamentary Questions.

MPS ARE under pressure to use parliamentary privilege to name “X” – the  senior Tory at the centre of an alleged paedophile sex ring – when Home  Secretary Theresa May announces two inquiries into the scandal in the House of  Commons this afternoon.

May said on the Today programme this morning – under some strange  questioning by Evan Davis, who seemed to belittle the evidence – that what had  prompted the fresh inquiries was “serious allegations of shocking behaviour – we  need to make sure they are properly investigated”.

She will tell MPs there will be two inquiries – one into the original 1996-99  investigation by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, a high court judge; and a second into  the police handling of the allegations by the boys from the Bryn Estyn  children’s home near Wrexham in north Wales who claimed that senior police  officers were involved in the sex ring in addition to local businessmen,  traders, politicians and the senior Tory referred to as X in the Waterhouse  inquiry.

All eyes will be on MPs such as Labour’s Tom Watson to see whether one of them will name X under  Commons privilege. It was Watson who brought the dormant scandal back into the  headlines when on 24 October he asked David Cameron to ensure that the police  investigate evidence of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and  Number 10”.

X has been widely named on the internet but he cannot be named by the press  because of a gagging order made by Waterhouse, raising fresh allegations of a  cover-up by the establishment.

Mark Stephens, the lawyer who represented a number of children at the  Waterhouse Inquiry, said: “I am convinced parliamentary privilege will be used  to ask a question as to why this high-ranking politician who was named by a  victim in the north Wales child abuse inquiry has been afforded protection.”

That could be taken as an invitation to name X, who is threatening to sue  anyone who names him outside the confines of Parliament.

The Daily Telegraph has interviewed X anonymously today. He  told the paper that he has only visited Wrexham on one occasion.

He said: “Some guy said I was in the habit of taking young men from Wrexham  in my Rolls-Royce. But I have only been to Wrexham once and I didn’t visit the  children’s home, I made a speech to the constituency. I was with an official at  all times. I never had a Rolls Royce.

“When the inquiry was taking place I hired a lawyer to watch it in case there  was any mention of my name. The point is that it is totally without any grounds  whatsoever.”

The allegations by Steve Messham, who lived at the Bryn Estyn home in the  1970s and claims he was gang-raped by X and others, were supported by a second  victim, who said the politician had taken him for a meal which he paid for with  his “gold credit card” before he abused him. The man also had a Harrods account  card”.

Sir Ronald dismissed the allegations as “embarking on the realm of fantasy”.  He said: “It is obvious on this evidence that we cannot be satisfied that any  member of the X family was involved in paedophile activity.”

Messham will meet David Jones, the Welsh Secretary, this afternoon, to  discuss the allegations in detail.

David Cameron was forced to announce the inquiries after coming under  pressure during his trip to the Gulf yesterday. As The Mole reported, Michael Portillo, a former Tory  Cabinet minister, warned the PM would be open to a charge of double standards if  he refused a fresh inquiry into the alleged Tory sex ring, given the demands by  Culture Secretary Maria Miller for openness at the BBC in its inquiry into the  Jimmy Savile scandal.

The investigation promised by Cameron will examine whether the Waterhouse  inquiry ordered by William Hague, the then Welsh Secretary, was “properly  constituted and properly did its job”. Hague could appear as a witness in the  new inquiry.

Separately, Downing Street confirmed a second inquiry into the police  handling of the scandal, which could be led by a retired Chief Constable or the  Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Cameron said: “Child abuse is an absolutely hateful and abhorrent crime and  these allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn’t be left hanging in the  air, so I’m taking action today.”

Read more:

Allegations of abuse by a paedophile ring involving politicians. Now has claims of “mysterious early deaths”, suspicious fires and other forms of threats and intimidation as part of a possible cover-up.

David Cameron announces inquiry into ‘dreadful’ Tory child abuse claims

David Cameron has announced an investigation into “truly dreadful” child abuse claims involving a senior Tory at a Welsh children’s home.

Twitter claims identify politician in North Wales child abuse case

Steve Messham told Newsnight that he was abused by a leading Conservative politician while he was a child in care Photo: BBC/Newsnight

3:52PM GMT 05 Nov 2012

The Prime Minister said the historic allegations of abuse by a paedophile ring at children’s homes in Wrexham, North Wales, could not be left “hanging in the air”.

He said a senior independent figure would investigate whether a previous inquiry “properly did its job”.

Mr Cameron said: “Child abuse is an absolutely hateful and abhorrent crime and these allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn’t be left hanging in the air, so I’m taking action today.

“I’m going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead an urgent investigation into whether the original inquiry was properly constituted and properly did its job and to report urgently to the government.”

Steve Messham, the sexual abuse victim who made the claims, will meet David Jones, the Welsh Secretary, tomorrow.

He said a senior Tory politician had abused him in a hotel room with eight other paedophiles. However, he says that when he went to the police in the 1970s he was accused of being a “liar” and his claims were not properly investigated.

He was a witness at an inquiry led by the judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse into allegations spanning 40 homes between 1974 and 1990. The inquiry, which reported in 2000, dismissed the allegations as “embarking on the realm of fantasy”.

However, Mr Cameron has decided to investigate the inquiry after the allegations formed the centrepiece of an investigation featured on BBC’s Newsnight on Friday.

A legally binding order issued by Sir Ronald at the time of the inquiry banned the media from naming the politician and the man also made clear to the BBC last week he would sue if he was named.

But yesterday his name was widely circulating on the internet including through hundreds of messages on the social networking site Twitter. However several other politicians not suspected of any involvement were also included in the messages.

One current public figure was among those posting messages mentioning him and another identifying the man was reposted by other users more than 100 times.

Lawyers involved with the inquiry warned that those behind the Tweets could find themselves facing legal action.

They likened the breaches to a string of cases involving public figures who took out so-called super-injunctions but who were then named on the internet.

As happened on several of those cases, there were predictions last that the man could eventually be named in Parliament using special privilege protecting members from being sued for libel for comments in the Commons or Lords.

The speculation grew as the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Mr Towler, called for a new inquiry into the allegations amid claims that the full scale of the abuse was covered up.

His comments followed a raft of claims that politicians from a previous Government were involved in or had links to those involved in sexual offences involving children.

Tom Watson, the campaigning Labour MP who helped expose the phone hacking scandal, said he had received scores of emails, calls and letters from the public containing potential leads after he raised the matter in the Commons 10 days ago.

He said that the allegations, involving “household names”, could potentially lead to bigger scandal than phone hacking.

In a posting on his blog Mr Watson said he had been reduced to tears by some of the allegations including claims abused children were marked with knives to show “ownership” or driven to golf course car parks to be exploited by paedophiles after they had finished a round of golf.

He said there had even been claims of “mysterious early deaths”, suspicious fires and other forms of threats and intimidation as part of a possible cover-up.

But he also disclosed that since raising the issue he had received warnings about his “personal safety”.

Richard Scorer, who represented Mr Messham said: “My view of this is that nothing would surprise me honestly.”

But he insisted: “The evidenced has to be properly investigated … I don’t say it’s true, I think it is quite possible that public figures could be involved in child abuse as almost certainly Jimmy Savile was.

“My view is that we’ve got to get a decent investigation going and look at it all.”

Mark Stephens, who represented around 15 of the children at the Waterhouse Inquiry, said: “I am convinced parliamentary privilege will be used to ask a question as to why this high-ranking politician who was named by a victim in the north Wales child abuse inquiry has been afforded protection.”

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph last week, the politician strenuously denied ever going to the home concerned. He was unavailable to comment on the internet claims last night.

Fears of a witch hunt as BBC sex abuse scandal spreads

Dead TV presenter’s crimes cast shadow over incoming New York Times CEO.

 October 27, 2012 07:00

Entwhistle 10 26 2012
The BBC under fire: Director general George Entwistle. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON, UK — It started as a simple scandal involving a few sordid claims about a dead television presenter. Now revelations about Jimmy Savile have become a “tsunami of filth” that threatens to tear apart the BBC, destroy public careers and even stain the New York Times.

As fresh allegations of abuse, rape, pedophilia and even necrophilia against Savile emerge daily, the British public is fast becoming inured to the horrors he was allowed to perpetrate during a five-decade sex rampage at the BBC, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions he visited for charity work.

Police are now believed to be following up almost 400 complaints against the presenter. Most have emerged since a rival to the BBC aired a television documentary in September — almost a year after Savile’s death — that carried interviews with alleged victims.

Although public revulsion at Savile’s acts may have reached terminal velocity, the spread of blame continues to accelerate. Questions are being asked about how Savile got away with it for so long, who helped him and, crucially, whether anyone at the BBC is guilty of a cover-up.

A frenzy of finger pointing has targeted BBC figures past and present but has also extended to health officials, police and — following claims in some quarters that aspects of Savile’s sexual preferences were more acceptable in bygone decades — British society as a whole.

Now some believe the campaign threatens to become a witch hunt, amid suggestions some British media are deliberately whipping up opinion against the BBC as payback for the scrutiny they faced during the recent phone-hacking scandal.

Three inquiries have emerged from the Savile affair. The director of public prosecutions will examine why police failed to act on earlier reports against Savile and look into sex-abuse claims against others linked to him. The BBC has launched two more probes.

The broadcaster is under pressure to examine suggestions that senior staff knew Savile was exploiting his celebrity to prey on young people taking part in his television shows. There are also questions about a possible pedophile ring within the BBC.

The broadcaster has also been called on to explain a decision last December to shelve an investigation into Savile by journalists for Newsnight, a BBC current-affairs show. The report would have coincided with another program honoring Savile.

A panel of lawmakers this week grilled the BBC’s new director general. George Entwistle has issued an apology to Savile’s victims, but has drawn criticism for appearing to hang Newsnight editor Peter Rippon out to dry.

Asked whether BBC bosses had leaned on the program to drop the Savile report, Entwistle said: “I have no evidence whatsoever that any kind of managerial pressure was applied. The decision was made by Peter Rippon.”

However, his insistence he was unaware of the Newsnight investigation at the time drew dismay. Panel chairman John Whittingdale said the director general had displayed an “extraordinary lack of curiosity.”

Similar concerns prompted Culture Minister Maria Miller to write to the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s governing body, this week to express her concerns about upholding the expectations of ordinary householders who fund the television service through a mandatory license fee.

“In all our conversations we have talked about the paramount importance of full public trust in the BBC’s inquiries and agreed that it is essential that license fee payers can be assured that they are being conducted thoroughly and with the full cooperation of the BBC,” she wrote.

BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten later defended Entwistle, saying he had coped well with the scandal despite his relative inexperience. “It was a very, very difficult baptism of fire for a new director general,” he told the BBC, “this great tsunami of filth broke over him 11 days into the job.”

“Our main concern has to be for the victims of abuse and worse who have been marooned for years, trying to tell their stories and not being believed,” he added, “including, it seems, by the BBC, and to deal with the terrible damage to the BBC.”

Entwistle’s decision to pin the Newsnight blame on Rippon, who has already stepped aside over the controversy, appears to have sparked an internecine squabble at the BBC. The Daily Telegraph newspaper characterized it as a “war.”

The backlash came from Victoria Derbyshire, a well-known BBC radio presenter, who this week tweeted: “If BBC journos/Eds make a poor editorial call, (& most of us hve at some point), will they be treated by mgemnt like Peter Rippon has been?”

Attention has also fallen on Entwistle’s predecessor, Mark Thompson, who was in charge at the time of the Newsnight report. He’s denied quashing it, but has offered conflicting accounts about what he knew of its contents.

Thompson is due to take over as chief executive officer at The New York Times in November, but the Savile affair has raised concerns from Times staff. The paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, even questioned whether Thompson still has a future at the paper.

“How likely is it that the Times Company will continue with its plan to bring Mr. Thompson on as chief executive?” she asked. “His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The Times and its journalism — profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.”


The relentless focus on the BBC has prompted an outcry from those who feel that the broadcaster, its editors and executives are being unjustly pursued while the plight of those who suffered from Savile’s attacks is being sidelined.

“It seems some people are still fundamentally missing the point,” newspaper columnist Suzanne Moore said. “This is a story about an environment of abuse, how it flourished in plain sight, how supposedly ‘good guys’ did nothing to stop it, and how girls are never really to be trusted. Or never actually a priority.”

Mark Damazar, a former BBC news director who is now the master of St. Peter’s College at Oxford University, said the broadcaster is guilty of nothing more than professional miscalculation.

“The BBC lives by noble ideals, of course often imperfectly executed, and is trying to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “I know that many license-payers will feel let down. But the BBC has recovered before from editorial dramas — and we ought not to enjoy its misfortunes.”

Paedophiles could be ‘spotted and cured’ through MRI scans to detect brain abnormalities and low IQs

  • Paedophilia  could ‘begin in the womb if the mother is stressed’

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:17:38 EST, 20  October 2012| UPDATED:17:38 EST, 20 October 2012



Paedophiles have a ‘mental illness’ that can  be spotted before they abuse anyone, new research claims.

Experts believe they can identify a potential  offender through MRI and IQ tests, and treat the paedophile before they attack a  youngster.

Some believe that they can even ‘cure’  paedophiles, who may have an abnormality in their brains that means they  struggle to differentiate between sexual objects.

Could science have spotted Jimmy Savile? Research suggests paedophiles suffer an abnormality in the brain 

Could science have spotted Jimmy Savile? Research  suggests paedophiles suffer an abnormality in the brain

One expert believes that paedophilia could be  a biological problem that begins in the womb, and could be caused by stressed  mothers-to-be.

Five studies have concentrated on  abnormalities detected in pedophiles’ brains, with results discerning  irregularities in the frontal lobe to observing peadophiles brain activity when  they see images of naked children, the Daily Beastreported.

Research suggested that sex offenders appear  to have significantly less white matter—a substance that connects different  parts of the brain—than those who are pedophiles, according to James Cantor,  associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

Cantor told the Daily Beast that through  studying diffusion tensor imaging MRI  scans, he can see patterns of the brain typically  found in pedophiles.

The professor believes that a lack of  connection between parts of the brain could mean that paedophiles struggle to  differentiate between sexual objects.

Paedophiles could undergo MRI scans to spot whether they have a telltale brain abnormality 

Paedophiles could undergo MRI scans to spot whether they  have a telltale brain abnormality

His research discovered that the sexual  predators generally have lower IQs and are disproportionately left-handed  compared to the overall population.

Cantor believes paedophilia could be a  biological problem that some are born with, he told The Daily Beast.

The scientist says it could even develop from  ‘maternal stress while the mother is still pregnant, or a combination of  maternal stress or poor nutrition, or household stress during childhood,’ he  said.

‘If we take out one of those ingredients, we  may break the chain and understand the whole system that ends in pedophilia,’ he  told the Daily Beast.

The search for a cause has intensified in  recent years, as much of the most recent research has focused on medical  treatments for pedophilic urges.

Medications such as Depo-Provera—which is  commonly prescribed for prostate cancer—lower testosterone and libido levels and  are being tested as effective ‘chemical-castration’ treatments, and some say  cures, to pedophilia. Those who seek help are also often treated with talk  therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to the medicinal  route.

But not everyone is convinced that stopping  pedophilia is as simple as taking a pill or reading an MRI.

Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at  California’s Santa Clara University who has done extensive research on child  abuse within the Catholic Church, says sex offenders need to be tackled with  social, psychological and biological treatments.

He believes many of the sex offenders that  authorities consider paedophiles are ‘not paedophiles at all’ but are sex  offenders who will target anyone they can.

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