Today is a bad day for Chris Patten, yet ex-BBC chief Mark Thompson must be slight relieved that his bust-up with the BBC Trust Chairman has been distracting attention from the far more serious allegations he faces regarding the Jimmy Savile scandal. It was Thompson that stirred this row up. While the pay-off story is outrageous, what of the other mysteries looming over Thompson?
Helen Boaden, one of Thompson’s closest former allies, says she informed Thompson in December 2011 that Savile had been accused of paedophilia by reporters from Newsnight. This is relevant because tribute programmes to Savile were broadcast by the BBC after Newsnight’s Savile investigation had been axed in mysterious circumstances. Thompson could have stopped these programmes, though that would have been very expensive…
Thompson denies Boaden’s claim, but as viewers of Channel Four News on Friday night saw, when he was doorstepped by Miles Goslett in New York, Thompson was visibly uncomfortable answering questions about Savile. Guido first linked Thompson to the Savile scandal in February 2012, and internal emails show our post was picked up by many of Thompson’s colleagues at the BBC.
Meanwhile, this morning’s Times reports that Patten is now considering new evidence about Thompson on the Savile scandal which threatens to do Thompson’s reputation serious harm. Sources say Thompson, now CEO of the New York Times, is far more concerned by this than the pay-off scandal. Given how hard it has been to drag Thompson back across the pond in order to face questioning on anything, MPs lining up to scrutinise him this afternoon must ask him about Savile, as well as about those dodgy pay-offs.