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Alan Yentob ‘branded BBC journalists traitors over Savile exposé’

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Alan Yentob ‘branded BBC journalists traitors over Savile exposé’
The corporation’s creative director ‘categorically denies’ claims that he made the comments about Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean

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The BBC’s creative director accused the journalists who exposed the corporation’s cover-up of Jimmy Saviles crimes of being “traitors”, the former Newsnight investigations head claims.

According to Meirion Jones, Alan Yentob made the alleged comment about him and Liz MacKean to a colleague after they contributed to the Panorama exposé “Savile – What The BBC Knew”.

Mr Jones and Ms MacKean led the 2011 Newsnight investigation into Savile’s sex abuse, which was blocked from broadcast by BBC bosses.

Jimmy SavileJimmy Savile  Photo: PA

The programme revealed the organisation’s attempts to stop Newsnight exposing Savile as a paedophile who carried out attacks on BBC premises.

“A BBC colleague abused as a child wrote to Tony Hall [director general] to complain about the Savile affair,” Mr Jones told Spectator Life magazine.

“In his email, he says he approached Yentob just after Panorama broadcast a film about whether or not there had been a cover-up at the BBC.

“He claims that Yentob denounced us. ‘Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones are traitors to the BBC,’ Yentob told him.”

The BBC’s decision to shelve Newsnight’s Savile documentary plunged the corporation into one of the biggest crises in its history, and led to its then director general, George Entwistle, losing his job.

Mr Yentob, 68, denies making the comment. A BBC spokesman said: “Alan says this is categorically not true.”

Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones, who worked on the dropped Newsnight investigation of Jimmy Savile, say the Pollard report found the decision to axe their programme was "flawed". Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones worked on the dropped Newsnight investigation of Jimmy Savile

It is understood that Mr Yentob will be quizzed by the BBC’s sex abuse inquiry over the Louis Theroux film “When Louis Met Jimmy” in which the DJ failed to deny that he was a child abuser.

Mr Yentob was the BBC’s director of television at the time of the Theroux documentary, but has denied having any involvement in the commissioning or production of the programme.

Tory MP Philip Davies told the Daily Mail that, if correct, the revelation made Mr Yentob’s position and salary, thought to be around £330,000-a-year, “untenable”.

Mr Jones said Mr Yentob’s attempts to intervene with the BBC’s coverage of the Kids Company charity was reminiscent of the BBC’s cover-up of the Savile scandal.

The charity founder Camila Batmanghelidjh

He said it was “abundantly clear” that Mr Yentob should not have been “haranguing” reporters about the charity which he chaired.

The former Newsnight producer went on: “Some involved in the present showdown even feared that, if they persevered, they might be forced to leave the BBC, as Liz and I had done, and the parallels with our battle with management over Savile were obvious.”

Mr Yentob admitted that he had intervened over the broadcaster’s coverage of the Kids Company collapse. He said he had demanded to know why the Newsnight programme had not given the charity a right of reply in its report.

• Panorama investigates Newsnight decision to drop Jimmy Savile probe

• Pressure growing on Alan Yentob and fellow trustees after Kids Company closure

Mr Yentob will be grilled by MPs over the collapse of Kids Company at the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee next month.

A BBC spokesman said: “The fact that the BBC broke this story shows that our journalism has been impartial and in the public interest.

“Everyone knows that Alan Yentob is the Creative Director of the BBC and doesn’t have any editorial control over BBC News. He is chair of Kids Company and can speak to media outlets about issues related to them.”

The spokesman added that it would be inappropriate to comment on Dame Janet Smith’s inquiry until the Review publishes its report.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11887548/Alan-Yentob-branded-BBC-journalists-traitors-over-Savile-expose.html

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