Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal prompts Newsnight editor to 'step aside'


Sir Jimmy Savile in 2006.


Matthew Lewis

Peter Rippon, a BBC Newsnight editor, is "stepping aside" from his post while an inquiry is conducted into his handling of a report that the late Sir Jimmy Savile allegedly committed sexual abuse of young girls for years during his BBC tenure.

The BBC reported that Rippon is the person responsible for "dropping a report into claims Sir Jimmy Savile sexually abused people" last year.

The announcement came as the BBC has released a statement correcting a blog post that Rippon wrote last month in defense of his decision. The BCC now says that the explanation Rippon gave in the blog "is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects."

Later Monday, the Telegraph reported that BBC lawyers blocked the release of e-mails to be included in a documentary about the Savile allegations. According to the Telegraph, the e-mails implicated "senior executives in a decision to drop a Newsnight expose of Jimmy Savile."

More from GlobalPost: Sex abuse scandal prompts crisis at the BBC

The statement included the following corrections:

"The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence that anyone from the Duncroft home could or should have known about the allegations. In fact some allegations were made (mostly in general terms) that some of the Duncroft staff knew or may have known about the abuse.

"The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence against the BBC. No allegation was made to the programme that BBC staff were aware of Mr Savile's alleged activities, but there were some allegations of abusive conduct on BBC premises.

"The blog says that all the women spoken to by the programme had contacted the police independently already and that Newsnight had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police. It appears that in some cases women had not spoken to the police and that the police were not aware of all the allegations."

On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in on the allegations, by which he said the “nation was appalled.”

During a speech in London, Cameron expressed additional concern over the Monday revelation that the BBC's first stated version of events was not entirely true. "The developments today are concerning because the BBC has effectively changed its story about why it dropped the Newsnight programme about Jimmy Savile," Cameron said in London, according to the Independent.

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, told the Telegraph that the scandal is "a crisis for the BBC." Questions remain about how Savile might have been able to conduct alleged abuse for so many years, and why the news organization ignored indications of abuse, that the BBC must answer, Whittingdale said.

The BBC documentary "Panorama," set to air Monday night in Britain, "is expected to give details of how much information the Newsnight team had on Savile at the time their investigation was shelved," Reuters reported.