Ex-BBC chief, turned boss of the New York Times, Mark Thompson, has written to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee once again claiming that during his last nine months at the Beeb he “never heard any allegations” about Jimmy Savile.
In his letter Thompson essentially says he expects the committee to believe a series of increasingly absurd notions:
1. That when he asked BBC head of news Helen Boaden in December 2011 what Newsnight’s investigation of Jimmy Savile was about she didn’t tell him.
2. That he never read or heard about any of the half dozen national newspaper and magazine stories alleging Savile’s sexual misdemeanour’s which were published in January and February 2012 and which made it clear this is what Newsnight had investigated. During his time at the BBC, Mark was a known Guido reader, who must have missed this one.
3. That when a Telegraph journalist emailed him in February 2012 asking if it was true that he knew about Newsnight’s Savile investigation he never got the message.
4. That when freelance journalist Miles Goslett rang Thompson’s office in May 2012 and told his chief of staff Jessica Cecil that Savile had apparently abused under-age girls on BBC premises in the 1970s Cecil did not tell him.
5. That when ITV wrote to him on 7 September 2012 informing him of their forthcoming documentary on Savile and repeating the allegations raised by Goslett he was not told.
6. Crucially, Thompson also asks the committee to believe that although he authorised law firm Mills & Reeve to send a letter to the Sunday Times on 6 September 2012 on his behalf threatening to sue the paper if it ran Goslett’s story, he was not fully aware what the story was and did not read the letter which the law firm sent.
Much of this beggars belief. Over to John Whittingdale…