BBC director general George Entwistle says he does not accept charges that the corporation handled allegations against former presenter Jimmy Savile badly.
Mr Entwistle appeared before a committee of MPs to answer questions about allegations of sexual abuse by Savile over several decades, and about the decision not to broadcast a Newsnight investigation including interviews with his alleged victims last year.
He told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that Savile’s activities were ‘a very, very grave matter indeed’, and said that when the scale and credibility of the allegations came to light, thanks to an ITV investigation, he immediately personally contacted the police.
Committee chairman John Whittingdale told Mr Entwistle that the BBC’s handling of the affair ‘is raising very serious questions about potential suppression to avoid embarrassment’, and asked him: “Would you accept that this has not been handled well by the BBC in the last few weeks?”
The director general replied: “No, I wouldn’t accept that. I would accept that there have been times when we have taken longer to do things than in a perfect world I would have liked.
“But I think if you looked at what we have achieved since the scale of the crisis became clear, I think you see we have done much of what we should have done and done it in the right order and with proper respect paid to the right authorities.”
Mr Entwistle admitted the scandal had raised questions of trust and reputation in the BBC.
He told MPs: “There’s no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved … the culture and practices of the BBC seems to allow Jimmy Savile to do what he did, will raise question of trust for us and reputation for us.”