The Pollard penny drops for Lord Patten

12 December 2013

When the Pollard Report into the BBC Jimmy Savile abuse affair was published in December 2012, BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten confidently told a press conference:

‘As far as we’re concerned the report is an excellent account of what happened. We’re totally in support of the recommendations, and that as far as I am concerned is that.’ 

But that has not been that. Readers will recall that Helen Boaden’s testimony, relating to a conversation that she had with Mark Thompson about the Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile, was omitted from the report. It should be noted that Mr Thompson has ‘slightly different recollections’ of this conversation than does Ms. Boaden, and that Nick Pollard questioned Mr Thompson about it at some length during his inquiry; but the omission has interested watchers of this case. There have been queries in the media and questions in the House; but, as Mr Steerpike wrote last week, there has been marked quiet from the BBC on the subject.


Until now. Lord Patten has said: ‘it would have been preferable for a reference to Helen Boaden’s legal letter to have been included.’ One wonders why it has taken so long for Lord Patten to reach the simple and obvious conclusion that Boaden’s letter should have been included in the report. Indeed, Nick Pollard himself has said: ‘It doesn’t particularly reflect well on me that I overlooked this in the report… It’s a slightly awkward position for me because if I’d thought about it immediately before publication and I’d picked up on the significance of it I think I’d have probably put it in the report.’

All of this prompts a question for the BBC Trust. If it would have been ‘preferable’ for the overlooked evidence to have been included in the report, does the Trust still regard the Pollard Report to be ‘an excellent account of what happened’? It may well be that the omitted evidence has no bearing on the report’s overall conclusions and recommendations; but I think that the BBC Trust ought to answer the question, for the sake of the factual record if nothing else. At the very least I would expect the Select Committee to investigate this matter.

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  • Andy

    Of course the BBC obviously knew all about Savile all along. This is all just window dressing, and not very good window dressing at that.

  • Barry

    I find it quite extraordinary that Nick Pollard did not pick up on the significance of the letter, since it could not have been more germane to the purpose of the Inquiry.

  • Maverick Ways
  • keith

    pattern always comes across as one of the smuggest people you could ever have the misfortune to meet, he must know were a lot of bodies are buried to still hold all the jobs he does, if he does finally jump ship ( i will help push if needed) who will replace him, knowing the criteria for the job i can only think that the only thing that will change for the BBC is the is the bottom on the seat otherwise no change to the culture

  • MikeF

    Just as poor old Entwistle became the sacrifical target last time so – it seems – the BBC’s self-preservation machine is now lining up Thompson as the new victim, after all he has jumped ship and is no longer really on the inside track. The difference is that while Entwistle was a hapless scapegoat Thompson has been shown to have been wilfully rather than just incompetently ignorant, though either way he has retrospectively proved himself manifestly unfit for the postion he held.
    Nevertheless what seems to come through all this is that BBC DGs are really just figureheads for a corporate regime not actual leaders who shape the organisation. Sure underlings, even high-ranking ones, like Boaden will be pushed aside first but – if push comes to shove – then the supposedly topdog will get it as well. The point is that the whole bloated edifice with its extravagance and it biases remains in place. For some reason the Romanian nomenklatura preserving themselves by putting Ceaucescu against the wall comes to mind.

    • First L

      Entwhistle was not a hapless scapegoat he was totally incompetent.

  • Tom M

    Yet another cock-up, yet another cover up unearthed, yet another inquiry, yet another dodgy report and in conclusion yet again nothing happens. Why bother. Save the money for the Romanians.

  • Bluesman_1

    A penny? It takes a lot more than that to get Citizen Patten’s part-time attention.

  • Frank

    Surely Fat Peng needs to spend time with his family? It is a bit like Andy Coulson, when does our Dave realise that Patten has to go?
    Secondly, I have read that the BBC has 17,000 staff. Can this be true? What do they all do since more and more programmes appear to be made by outside firms?

    • gelert

      Read The Grauniad.

  • jatrius

    It’s clear that the Ooze lied to the CMS Sel Cttee on the subject of Boaden and Thompson and yet he still remains in post, continuing to leak insincerity with every pore. Boaden is owed a huge apology.

    • Mike Purves

      Poor Boaden, so unfairly demoted to a job paying only £430,000. and Christmas coming up…..

      • jatrius

        Whilst I agree that all executive pay at the Beeb remains excessive, this is a separate issue and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be sidetracked by it. Boaden raised the issue of child sexual abuse, Thompson smothered it, Patten told the committee that he wasn’t going to be drawn into his strange tortured rendition of “an exegesis” and that the report was full and complete when Pollard had expressly told him about Boaden’s misgivings and that they did not feature in the report..

        • Mike Purves

          I was only reflecting on the fact that, in the sunlit upper reaches of the Beeb management bubble, the worst thing that can happen to you is pretty bloody great by all normal standards!

        • First L

          It really isn’t a separate issue. How can people earning four to ten times the pay of the Prime Minister on public money do the following things without any repercussions at all?
          Harbour Paedophiles
          Lie to Parliament
          Accuse innocent people of being Paedophiles
          Avoid any responsibility for any of their television programmes – the BBC’s raison d’etre.
          Earn £500,000 for 52 days of doing a job incredibly badly.
          Take zero responsibility for the department you run to the point of being unable to recall basic facts.

          Aren’t high salaries supposed to attract the best of the best? Not polished turds?

  • tribalterror

    Of course it was an excellent report because unsurprisingly it exonerated all parties at the BBC sufficiently so they could carry on collecting their tax payer funded inflated salaries and pensions and the institution itself could sweep all other considerations under the mat. It’s almost as though the BBC wrote the report itself…..

    • Noa

      We should accept a trademanrk comment of the real Pollard (Vicky) as the more authoritative judgement of the BBC:-
      “…Yeh but no, but yeh… You calling me a liar? You better watch out because the last person’s called me a liar was Bethany Ray, and she ended getting stabbed in the arm with a pencil, but I never done it cos I would Soooo never do that! And anyone who says I did, I’d stab them in the arm with a pencil.”

  • gelert

    How dare anyone have the temerity to question Fat Pang, aka He who must be obeyed ?

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