BBC defends handling of Savile scandal after Archbishop questions 'integrity'

The BBC has responded to criticism by the Archbishop of Canterbury about its handling of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said he had not seen the same "integrity" over the BBC's failures with Savile as he had seen in the Catholic and Anglican Churches.

He made the comments in an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today programme in which he was reflecting on changes to society over the past 60 years, the broadcaster said.

(Lauren Hurley/PA)
(Lauren Hurley/PA)

According to BBC News, the Archbishop told the programme: "I think we are a kinder society, more concerned with our own failures, more willing to be honest where we go wrong.

"In most of our institutions, there are still dark areas."

When asked which, he said: "If I'm really honest, I'd say the BBC is one.

"I haven't seen the same integrity over the BBC's failures over Savile as I've seen in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Church of England, in other public institutions over abuse.

"We may be proved wrong about that, but you know that's one area."

BBC response to Jimmy Savile's crimes criticised by Justin Welby

-- BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) September 30, 2017

A spokesman for the broadcaster told BBC News: "This isn't a characterisation we recognise. When the Savile allegations became known we established an independent investigation by a High Court judge.

"In the interests of transparency, this was published in full. We apologised and accepted all the recommendations.

"And while today's BBC is a different place, we set out very clear actions to ensure the highest possible standards of child safeguarding."

(Lauren Hurley/PA)
(Lauren Hurley/PA)

In 2016, the Dame Janet Smith Review into sexual abuse at the corporation identified 72 victims of DJ Savile.

A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said: "We fully accept the failures of the Church of England in the area of safeguarding.

"Since the Archbishop took up his role, he has been very clear that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be the highest priority of all parts of the Church and was one of the first to call for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

"The Church's National Safeguarding Team was created in 2015 and there are now robust House of Bishops safeguarding policies in place along with independent audits for all dioceses and dedicated training on hearing disclosures for all senior clergy.

"The Archbishop fully supports the Church's commitment to develop a stronger national approach to safeguarding to improve its response to protecting the vulnerable.

"The Archbishop believes this level of rigorous response and self-examination needs to extend to all institutions, including the BBC."

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