and Alan Cowell
LONDON: The British Broadcasting Corp. said Monday that a former senior judge has begun an inquiry into the corporation’s “culture and practices” that lay behind the sexual abuse scandal surrounding the late television host Jimmy Savile.
The inquiry opened on the first anniversary of Savile’s death at age 84 and a day after the British police, widening the scandal, arrested a former pop star in connection with the case.
The Metropolitan Police arrested Paul Gadd, better known as Gary Glitter from the 1970s heyday of glam rock, who is a convicted pedophile. Gadd’s arrest followed accusations that he abused a teenage girl on the premises of the BBC. He was released on bail late Sunday after he was questioned in a London police station.
Since the British television station ITV broadcast a documentary about Savile earlier this month, some 300 people have come forward claiming that they were abused by the outlandish television star. They described a depraved environment in Savile’s dressing room at the BBC studios where teenage girls were molested by Savile and others, including Gadd.
The investigation by Dame Janet Smith, a former appeals court judge, is one of two that the BBC has commissioned into the scandal.
The other by Nick Pollard, a former head of the rival Sky News, is looking specifically into a decision last December by an editor at the BBC to cancel an investigation of Savile’s misconduct at a time when other sections of the corporation were planning Christmastime tributes to him.
Compared to the Leveson Inquiry, whose public hearings have covered the behavior of the British press in the separate phone hacking scandal, the inquiries into the BBC’s behavior seemed more opaque.
A BBC spokesman and a person representing Smith said her inquiry had started but they declined to say who was appearing before it or whether it was being held in public.
In response to a reporter’s questions, Carolyn E. Pepper of law firm Reed Smith released a statement saying: “Dame Janet’s view is that it is not appropriate for her to give interviews or provide comment regarding the review at this time. Press information will be issued in due course.”
Pepper said the review was under way but she was not authorized to give further details.
Over several years, at least seven people complained to four different police forces about Savile’s behavior, one of them accusing him of molesting her in a trailer in the parking lot of the main BBC television studios in west London.
But Bernard Hogan Howe, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard, said on Monday that a proliferation of accusations “have not been put together” to form an overall picture.