Kids' charity refused help from Savile

By Ian Burrell

Former head says paedophiles circled telethon 'like flies round a honey pot'.

Former pop star Gary Glitter. Photo / AP
Former pop star Gary Glitter. Photo / AP

A former head of Children in Need has revealed that paedophiles targeted the annual charity appeal "just like flies around the honey pot" and that Jimmy Savile was banned from association with the telethon.

Sir Roger Jones, a former chairman of Children in Need and a former BBC Governor for Wales and, said he refused to let Savile "anywhere near" the appeal after being told rumours by BBC colleagues in London.

"I think we all recognised he was a pretty creepy sort of character," he said. "When I was with Children in Need we took the decision that we didn't want him anywhere near the charity and we just stepped up our child protection policies which again would have put him at risk if he tried anything."

The news is likely to provoke further criticism of the BBC over its failure to alert the authorities to Savile's activities, although Jones said he could do no more because "hard evidence" against the presenter "simply wasn't there".

His revelations that Children in Need has been targeted by paedophiles is damaging to the BBC's charity which raises around £40 million ($78 million) a year in the UK. The annual event is only two weeks away.

"We knew that the biggest thing to guard against was the paedophiles," he told BBC Wales. "They were just like flies around the honey pot. Not just in the fundraising but also in the distribution of funds."

The former governor also criticised Director General George Entwistle for failing to ascertain details of a Newsnight investigation into allegations of child abuse by Savile, before giving the go ahead to broadcast tribute programmes to the presenter late last year.

"He didn't ask the question 'why?' I find that extraordinary," said Jones.

The Metropolitan Police's investigation into sex abuse by Savile is looking at 400 lines of inquiry and around 300 alleged victims.

A BBC Trust spokesperson said: "The Trust shares the horror felt by the wider public about the appalling allegations of child abuse at the BBC and we are determined to get to the bottom of what happened."

Children in Need said it was looking into the comments made by Jones. A spokesman said: "Child protection is of paramount importance to the charity and is implicit in everything that we do,"

- Independent

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