Savile inquiry calls for witnesses

Bicester Advertiser: Jimmy Savile worked for the BBC between 1963 and 2007 Jimmy Savile worked for the BBC between 1963 and 2007

The former judge who is leading a BBC inquiry into the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal has launched an appeal for witnesses.

Dame Janet Smith, who is reviewing the corporation's practices during the Savile years, has called on potential victims, witnesses, people who worked with the TV presenter and senior staff at the time to assist with the investigation.

According to the inquiry's website, the review also wants to hear from people "who were familiar with the culture or practices of the BBC" in terms of "preventing or enabling the sexual abuse of children, young people or teenagers".

Savile became hugely famous during the 1960s and 1970s as a BBC Radio 1 DJ and presenter of Jim'll Fix It on BBC1. He worked for the BBC between 1964 and approximately 2007, according to the review's website.

But Savile, who died last year at the age of 84, is now believed to have been one of the UK's most prolific abusers, with hundreds of possible victims. It is alleged the TV star abused young people on BBC premises, in hospitals, care homes and Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.

The scandal has rocked the BBC after it emerged a Newsnight report into abuse by Savile was dropped, and the reasons given for doing so by its editor proved to be inaccurate.

The crisis enveloping the corporation mushroomed after the revelations and, coupled with the furore over Newsnight's reporting of the North Wales abuse scandal, led to the departure of several senior staff, including director general George Entwistle last week

Scotland Yard is leading a national investigation into Savile's alleged abuse and pursuing hundreds of lines of inquiry. So far, three people have been arrested in relation to the police Operation Yewtree - former rocker Gary Glitter, comic Freddie Starr and a 73-year-old man.

Aside from former Court of Appeal judge Dame Smith's inquiry, there are also two separate BBC investigations into the scandal - one dealing directly with the dropped Newsnight report and one into the handling of past sexual harassment claims.

In addition, the Department of Health is investigating its own conduct after appointing Savile to head a "taskforce" at Broadmoor in 1988 and the Director of Public Prosecutions is reviewing why the Crown Prosecution Service did not prosecute Savile in 2009.

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