1. ITV Report

BBC apology to Savile's alleged victims

BBC Director-General George Entwistle, left, has announced two inquiries into the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal. Photo: PA

BBC director-general George Entwistle offered a "profound and heartfelt apology" to the alleged victims of Sir Jimmy Savile's sexual abuse as he announced that two inquiries would be launched.

One will look into whether there were any failings over the handling of an abandoned Newsnight investigation into the late DJ and broadcaster.

A second independent inquiry will look into the "culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked here", Mr Entwistle said.

As the director-general of the BBC I have made clear my revulsion at the thought that these criminal assaults were carried out by someone employed by the BBC and that some may have happened on BBC premises as well as, we now discover, in hospitals and other institutions across the UK.

I have one thing to repeat - that is a profound and heartfelt apology on behalf of the BBC to every victim.

It is the victims, these women who were subject to criminal actions, who must be central in our thoughts.

ITV News' Juliet Bremner reports:

Since ITV screened a documentary in which five women alleged they were abused, new claims about Savile's predatory behaviour have emerged on a daily basis.

Scotland Yard is pursuing 340 lines of inquiry in the Savile abuse case involving 40 potential victims, the force revealed.

So far 12 allegations of sexual offences have been officially recorded but this number is increasing, Scotland Yard said.

Metropolitan Police detectives are in contact with 14 other forces as the number of allegations against the former DJ continues to rise.

Speaking about the inquiry into the "culture and practices" at the BBC during the Savile years, Mr Entwistle said: "It will examine whether that culture and those practices allowed him or others to carry out the sexual abuse of children. It will also examine whether the BBC's child protection, whistle-blowing and bullying and harassment policies and practices are now fit for purpose."

Mr Entwistle said he wanted to ensure "nothing of this kind could ever happen again at the BBC" as he revealed two "independent figures" would lead the inquiries.

They will be commissioned by the BBC executive board, chaired by Dame Fiona Reynolds.

"These will be forensic but also soul-searching examinations," Mr Entwistle said.

"Our audience's trust in us is paramount. We will do everything in our power to maintain that trust and we will do that by holding ourselves to account fully and openly, as we have always done and as our audience expect."

George Entwistle speaking to the media on Friday. Credit: BBC News

The second inquiry will look at whether there were any failings in the BBC management in the decision not to air the Newsnight investigation, he added.

"Despite our efforts to make our belief that the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation was taken properly for sound editorial reasons, people have continued to speculate. This is damaging to the BBC and is a cloud of suspicion which cannot be allowed to continue."

An announcement will be made next week on how the BBC will deal with allegations of sexual harassment, Mr Entwistle said.

"Jimmy Savile's victims have faced years of pain. We owe it to them and to our audiences to understand how this could have happened and to make sure that everything we do makes sure that nothing like this could ever happen again," he said.