Oct. 23 - The head of the BBC tells a committee of MPs that allegations of sexual abuse against one of its former stars were a grave matter but denied bosses had tried to cover up one of the biggest crises to hit the publicly-funded broadcaster. Ciara Sutton reports.
As head of the BBC George Entwistle is in charge of the world's largest broadcaster. But on Tuesday he was in the spotlight. Before a committee of MPs, he was asked to explain the corporation's handling of allegations of child abuse by entertainer Jimmy Savile. Entwistle says the culture at the BBC had allowed Savile to get away with years of abuse. He said the scandal has damaged the organisation's reputation and credibility, but said there was no cover up. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BBC DIRECTOR GENERAL, GEORGE ENTWISTLE: Question: "If it hadn't of been for ITV, there may have been no investigations now, there may have been now awareness of the case against Jimmy Savile. We might not be sitting in this room." Entwistle: "Of course I accept that." Question: "And is that a source of regret for you as head of the BBC?" Entwistle: "Yes it's a matter of great regret to me." Savile died last year aged 84. For decades he was one of Britain's most celebrated TV and radio stars. Police are investigating allegations he abused women and girls over a 60-year period, with some attacks taking place on BBC premises. It's one of the biggest crises the BBC has faced, and includes claims an investgative story exposing Savile was stopped from running on the Newsnight programme as part of a wider cover-up. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BBC DIRECTOR GENERAL, GEORGE ENTWISTLE: Question: "Do you now accept in the light of last night's Panorama that the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation was a catastrophic mistake?" Entwistle: "I came away from the Panorama firmly of the view that the investigation, even if in the judgment of the editor it wasn't ready for transmission at the point he was looking at it, should have been allowed to continue." The editor of Newsnight has stepped down. Police opened a criminal inquiry into the allegations last week, saying more than 200 potential victims have come forward.