Dame Janet Smith’s draft report into Jimmy Savile’s sexual abuse at the BBC has leaked to ExaroNews, and her words are pretty explosive. She condemns the BBC’s ‘above the law’ managers and ‘untouchable stars’ she says. Girls at Top of the Pops were exposed to moral danger. But, perhaps most worryingly, she finds that the culture of fear persists today. In this vast bureaucracy, employees are still afraid to speak up against wrongdoing. She says:
‘It is still clear from the evidence that 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. These 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 no employed on short-term contracts 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 no be used again.’
This is particularly dangerous for the BBC because it’s not about the corporation’s failings in the 1970s. It points to a problem now, and one that stems from one of the most controversial aspects of the BBC: its sheer size.