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BBC given ten days to read Jimmy Savile review before document is made public

By William Turvill and Press Association

The BBC has been given ten days to read the Jimmy Savile review before it is made public.

The Dame Janet Smith Review, a report into sexual abuse by BBC broadcaster Jimmy Savile, will be published on 25 February, an inquiry spokesman has said.

The review website said the report was passed on to BBC director general Tony Hall yesterday. And the BBC Trust will publish the report on Thursday next week.

Asked why the BBC was being given ten days to read the document, which has been in the making since 2012, a spokesperson for the Dame Janet Smith Review told Press Gazette: "It is a BBC commissioned Report and from the outset it was agreed by the Review team that the BBC would be given sufficient time for a sober reflection of its contents before making it public and answering questions on its findings. It is an extremely thorough, detailed, and lengthy body of work that requires due consideration. 

"Also, given the unique set-up of the BBC – with a Trust and separate Executive Board, both of which are expected to respond to its contents – in these circumstances the Review does not consider a 10 day timeframe (between first delivery and publication) to be in any way unreasonable."

Press Gazette has asked a spokesperson for the Dame Janet Smith Review why the BBC has been given ten days to read and prepare a response to the report, which has been in the making since 2012.

The statement said: "Dame Janet Smith's completed report was delivered by her to Lord Hall, who received it on behalf of the BBC's Executive Board, this afternoon.

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"The report is expected to be published by the BBC Trust on February 25, 2016.

"The arrangements for publication will be announced by the BBC."

Last month investigative news website Exaro published details from a leaked draft of the report. It revealed Smith's concerns about the state of whistleblowing within the corporation.

Smith reportedly notes in the report that while the BBC has introduced policy to protect whistleblowers, "there is still a widespread reluctance to complain about anything or even for it to be known that one has complained to a third party.

"I found that employee witnesses who were about to say something to the review that was even mildly critical of the BBC were extremely anxious to maintain their anonymity.

"There people were, and still are, afraid for their positions. Even with modern employment protection, people fear that, even if they do not lose their jobs, their promotion prospects will be blighted if they complain.

"It was explained to me that, in one respect, the position is even worse today than it was years ago in that so many people are now employed on short-term contracts or on a freelance basis, with little or no job security.

"Positions at the BBC are very sought after. The feeling that many workers have is that if they make any kind of complaint, they will not be used again. There are many people 'out there' who will be willing and able to take their places."

The draft report also said another "predatory child abuser" could be lurking at the BBC.

A statement on the Dame Janet Smith Review website expressed disappointment at the leak of the draft and said it was out of date.

It said significant changes have been made to its content, adding that the report "cannot be relied upon in any circumstances".

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