THE 90th birthday of the BBC is being over-shadowed by allegations of sexual abuse of young girls by one of its best-known stars, the late Jimmy Savile, and – says an article in today’s Scotsman newspaper – the scandal could affect the Corporation for years to come.
Writes Brian Ferguson, in a double-page feature: “The Savile affair is the latest in a long line of scandals to engulf the BBC over the last decade. But unlike other recent controversies, such as the Ross/Brand affair, the fake competition prize winners and the row over the government’s weapons of mass destruction dossier, there is little prospect of the Savile storm clouds lifting within the next five years.”
He quotes Dr Michael Higgins, from Strathclyde University, as saying: “The big problem for the BBC is the perception that the Savile affair is part of a much wider narrative in Britain over the last few years. We have seen what has happened with the collapse of the banks, politicians and their expenses, and the Leveson inquiry into newspapers.
“There has been a growing culture of scandal and there is an air of suspicion hanging over the BBC now. The key thing for the BBC is [to ensure] that it treats all the allegations that have been made extremely seriously and investigates them fully. If there is any hint of people trying to cover their backs, then the stains will linger for a lot longer.
“The difficulty for them is that although there have been controversies and scandals in the past, there is nothing on the scale that this appears to be. This was obviously not an isolated incident, as happened with Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, and the Andrew Gilligan affair, over the ‘sexed-up’ dossier claims, has now been largely forgotten about.”