Investigative journalist Liz MacKean, who left the BBC over its decision to drop her Newsnight probe exposing Jimmy Savile as a serial sex offender, has died at 52 following a stroke.
MacKean worked for the corporation for more than 20 years, starting at BBC Hereford and Worcester before presenting on Breakfast and making her name reporting from Northern Ireland.
- November 25, 2021
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Her reports about toxic dumping in West Africa, broadcast in 2010, earned her the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Journalism.
In a statement, BBC director of news James Harding said Mackean had earned a reputation as a “remarkably tenacious and resourceful reporter”.
“In Northern Ireland, she won the trust of all sides and produced some of the most insightful and hard-hitting reporting of the conflict,” he said.
“It was as an investigative reporter that she really shone, shining a light on issues from the dumping of toxic waste off the African coast to Jimmy Savile, the story for which she is probably best known.”
MacKean’s Newsnight investigation into Savile was suppressed in late 2011, shortly after the DJ and TV presenter’s death, only for the allegations to come to light a year later in an ITV documentary.
She took voluntary redundancy from the BBC in March 2013, telling Press Gazette in an interview two years later: “I didn’t feel encouraged to stay. I felt I would do better to work outside the BBC.
“There were still so many people who have been shown to be on the wrong side of the story who have stayed.”
MacKean and former Newsnight head of investigations Meirion Jones won scoop of the year at the London Press Club Awards in 2013 for their work in exposing Savile.
After leaving the BBC, MacKean went on to work for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme where her reports on the persecution of gay people in Russia won prizes at the Grierson British Documentary Awards in 2014.
MacKean was named journalist of the decade by LGBT rights campaign group Stonewall in 2015.
She is survived by her wife and their two children.