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'Serious failings' at BBC allowed Savile to abuse 72 people

“Serious failings” at the BBC allowed Jimmy Savile to rape and sexually assault 72 people, a damning report has found.

Dame Janet Smith's review found there was a culture of "reverence and fear" towards celebrities at the corporation.

One employee who complained about Savile was told: "Keep your mouth shut, he is a VIP."

After the report's publication, BBC director-general Lord Hall apologised to the victims, saying: "The BBC failed you when it should have protected you."

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Rantzen heard rumours about 'very peculiar' Savile

Esther Rantzen said she heard a rumour about Savile early in her career at the BBC Credit: PA

Jimmy Savile was a "very peculiar man" but a lack of evidence at the time meant allegations of sexual abuse remained only rumours, Dame Esther Rantzen has said.

The veteran BBC presenter said that she had heard a rumour from a journalist about Savile early on in her career at the BBC but "as Dame Janet said, there is a real difference between rumour and gossip [compared to] evidence".

Rantzen, who helped found Childline in 1986, was referring to Dame Janet Smith who today published a report on the BBC's handling of complaints about Savile.

"Throughout my career at the BBC I never heard anyone disclosing that Jimmy had abused them," she said.

But she said: "He was a very, very peculiar man. He wore a mask all the time ... and now we know what he was hiding."

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