New NYT’s CEO Non-Responsive to Latest MP Letter Seeking Facts on BBC Child-Abuse Scandal

By Penny Starr | October 30, 2012 | 4:09 PM EDT

Former BBC Director General Mark Thompson, now incoming CEO of The New York Times Company. (AP)

( – Former BBC director general and incoming NY Times CEO Mark Thompson has not responded to a letter sent by a British lawmaker seeking clarification on apparently differing remarks Thompson has made about what he knew and when he knew about a spiked investigative report into sexual abuse charges against the late iconic BBC TV celebrity Jimmy Savile.

The Savile scandal broke on Oct. 3, 2012, when the rival British network ITV broadcast an hour-long report on the allegations, which stretched back 40 years, raising questions about who knew what and when at the BBC.  This report came after the BBC itself had spiked a Savile investigation, by its Newsnight program, in early December 2011, when Mark Thompson was director general.

Member of Parliament Rob Wilson’s press office provided the Oct. 25 letter to and confirmed that a reply to the letter from Thompson has not been received. (See: Rob Wilson letter to Mark Thompson 25-10-12.pdf )

An inquiry to Ed Williams, Thompson’s representative, asking if and when a reply would be sent was not answered as this report was posted.

This is a March 25, 2008 file photo of Sir Jimmy Savile, who for decades was a fixture on British television, and who died in 2011. British police currently are investigating 300 allegations of sexual abuse involving Savile, some of which occurred on BBC property. The NYT's incoming CEO Mark Thompson was in charge of the BBC in late 2011 when the broadcaster shelved what would have been a bombshell investigation alleging that the late Savile was a serial sex offender. (AP Photo/ Lewis Whyld/PA, File)

“I would be grateful if you would take this opportunity to clarify whether or not you were aware that [BBC’s] Newsnight had been investigating allegations of sexual abuse related to Jimmy Savile,” Wilson’s letter states. “Was it ‘clear to you’ that Newsnight had been looking at allegation of sexual abuse related to Savile or not?”

Wilson is referring to an Oct. 24 article in The Times (London) where Thompson said: “It was clear to me that it’s allegations which relate to sexual abuse of some kind.”

Wilson’s letter continues: “Would you now admit that you had heard that such allegations existed during your time as Director General of the BBC? If you were indeed aware that the allegations related to Savile were of abuse or sexual abuse, but this was not on the basis of specific disclosure by either [news director] Caroline Hawley or colleagues in BBC News, do you recall how exactly you did ‘form this impression’ or come to be aware of the allegations?”

Wilson’s letter than questions Thompson about his responsibilities as director general at the time of the spiked investigation and the tributes to Savile that were aired several weeks after his death in October 2011 at the age of 84.

“If Newsnight, or any other person at BBC News, was aware that the allegations about criminal activities on BBC premises that were unknown to police, do you consider that it would have been their duty to report it to their superiors and ultimately to you as Director General?” Wilson’s letter states. (See: Rob Wilson letter to Mark Thompson 25-10-12.pdf )

“Given that you recall having heard around the time of Savile’s death in late October 2011 that the BBC might do something about Jimmy Savile (by way of tribute) in due course, and you were concerned that there might be ‘a problem,’ why did you not take further steps to ensure that the Savile tributes were appropriate, accurate and a fair representation of Savile’s life?  Why did you not take further steps during your time as Director General to ensure that the BBC put the record straight on Savile?” the letter states.

Savile had worked at the BBC as the host of three highly popular programs from 1964 to 1994; he had been knighted by the queen and the pope, raised millions for charities, and was a British cultural icon. Currently, Scotland Yard is investigating more than 300 allegations of sexual abuse against Savile, most of them involving girls, some as young as 12 when the abuse occurred.

Thompson worked at the BBC from 1979 to 2002 in various editorial and managerial positions and served as director general (editor-in-chief) of the corporation from 2004 through mid-August 2012. His time at the BBC overlapped with that of Savile for 15 years (1979-1994), although Thompson did not work with the accused pedophile and does not recall if he ever met Savile.