Savile scandal forces rewrite of book on BBC

Oxford Mail: Robin Aitken has been asked to rewrite his book, Can We Trust the BBC? Picture: OX56471 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Robin Aitken has been asked to rewrite his book, Can We Trust the BBC? Picture: OX56471 Damian Halliwell

SCANDALS at the BBC have sparked a former journalist to re-write his book Can We Trust the BBC?

Following the Jimmy Savile scandal, Robin Aitken, from Jericho, was asked by his publishers Bloomsbury for a rewrite.

The BBC journalist of 25 years first published Can We Trust the BBC? in 2007.

But the question has been raised again following hundreds of complaints in September that the BBC children’s TV presenter Jimmy Savile – who died in 2011 – was a paedophile.

The BBC was due to run a Newsnight programme last year about the allegations but it was pulled before it was aired.

The fact that the programme was quashed caused outcry and accusations that the BBC covered up the scandal.

Mr Aitken said the question posed by his book had now become very poignant again.

He said: “The idea is to put the most recent scandals in the context of what has gone before now. I never worked in light entertainment so I’m not sure about Savile specifically. The interest to me is the BBC. When you start digging there is a serious amount of shocking information out there. It is quite shocking to realise what may have been going on for years.”

Mr Aitken said he left the BBC on good terms in 2005 to organise the launch of The Oxford Food Bank charity.

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He was approached to redraft the book in November and is currently working to finish it towards the end of January.

The original book raised the question of political bias at the BBC, accusing it of being Labour-leaning.

Now he said his concern was what the scandal revealed about the BBC.

Mr Aitken added: “Like everyone else I was amazed and horrified really at the scandals which came out, I think because of the place the BBC holds in national life.

“Most of us have children who have consumed a lot of BBC output to suddenly be told that these people who were virtual friends may have been exploiting children as sexual predators is shocking and dismaying.

“The BBC matters to everybody; it is critical. We have to know what went on before we can decide to trust it again. I think the BBC is going to be humiliated by revelations of misdoings by some of its stars.

“The BBC prides itself on being the best broadcaster in the world so this is a reality check. However good it is as a broadcaster it is fallible. And if it can err in one area it can err in others.

“The BBC is going to face a very difficult time over the next few months.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC regards the trust of audiences as the cornerstone of its values. It is no surprise recent events have had an impact on how audiences view the organisation but by holding ourselves fully to account and openly learning lessons from these events we believe we can rebuild that trust to the levels it has previously reached.”

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