The BBC is still ignoring evidence of a potential cover-up over Jimmy Savile

There are worrying signs that Rona Fairhead’s reign at the BBC Trust will be as squalid as Chris Patten’s

Rona Fairhead, finance director of Pearson plc.

Former Financial Times chief executive Rona Fairhead, the new BBC Trust chairman Photo: NEWSCAST

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The appointment of Rona Fairhead as chair of the BBC Trust has been well-received – and it is certainly true that she could do no worse than her predecessor Chris Patten. Indeed her central task is to bring an end to the culture of collusion, complicity and management impunity which defined Lord Patten’s time in charge.
The early signs are, however, worrying. They suggest that Ms Fairhead sees her role as building on the Patten legacy rather than tackling it. Her first meaningful move as BBC chair has been to defend the £3 million Pollard Review into the BBC’s cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors, as carried out by Jimmy Savile.
A rigorous investigation by the journalist Miles Goslett has established that Nick Pollard sort of overlooked a letter written to him by the lawyer for Helen Boaden, then director of BBC News, asserting that she had personally informed Thompson of Newsnight’s Savile investigation and its contents.
This information was crucial. If Boaden was speaking the truth, then Mark Thompson permitted the BBC to air its notorious tribute to Savile even though he knew that two Newsnight journalists had heard claims about this abuse.
Amazingly the Pollard report made no mention at all of the alleged Boaden/Thompson conversation – an omission which led to him clearing Mark Thompson unequivocally of having any knowledge of any allegation against Jimmy Savile.
All this is set out by Miles Goslett for the Oldie Magazine. The conversation in which Pollard admits to failing to see the significance of Ms Boaden’s evidence can be heard here
Last month Mr Goslett wrote to Ms Fairhead urging her to reopen the Savile affair and amend the Pollard report to the reflect the fact that Pollard knew about the Boaden/Thompson conversation before he published his report.
This is what she has written back: “It would be wrong of me, as incoming Chairman, now to reopen this matter in the absence of clear and compelling new evidence that has not been previously considered by the Trust. We would of course review the situation if any such new evidence was brought to light.”
This is hopeless. By refusing to look again at the potential evidence that the Pollard report is a cover-up, Ms Fairhead is sending out the signal that her reign will be a continuation of the moral squalor of the Patten years. For all of us who believe in and support the BBC this is very worrying

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