Peter Rippon says the investigation into Jimmy Savile was dropped for editorial reasons (BBC)
Peter Rippon says the investigation into Jimmy Savile was dropped for editorial reasons (BBC)

The editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon, has "stepped aside" from his role while a report is carried out into why an investigation into Jimmy Savile was dropped.

Rippon has denied he was forced to drop the investigation which looked into accusations of sexual abuse by the late Savile. The programme was axed for editorial reasons.

The BBC announced it had corrected a blog post in which Rippon explained why the investigation was dropped as some of the information was "inaccurate or incomplete in some respects".

The decision comes as a BBC's Panorama is due to broadcast a programme which reveals what senior staff the BBC knew about the allegations surrounding Savile and that the chiefs gave different explanations about why it was spiked.

Rippon will now stand aside from his role while an independent inquiry headed by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard looks into why the investigation was dropped.

The BBC said: "The BBC has issued a correction to the blog by the editor of Newsnight, Peter Rippon.

"On the basis of material now available, it is apparent from information supplied by the Newsnight editor and programme team, that the explanation by the editor in his blog of his decision to drop the programme's investigation is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects.

"The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence against the BBC. No allegation was made to the programme that BBC staff were aware of Mr Savile's alleged activities, but there were some allegations of abusive conduct on BBC premises."

The statement also adds that some of the woman involved in the programme had not spoken to the police about the allegations and staff from Duncroft home - where Savile is accused of molesting girls - may or may not have known about the abuse.

The Jimmy Savile scandal has been described as the “worst crisis” the BBC dealt with in 50 years (Reuters)
The Jimmy Savile scandal has been described as the 'worst crisis' the BBC has dealt with in 50 years (Reuters)

Rippon maintains the news item - which was due to be aired in December 2011 - was not pulled because it clashed with a number of tribute programmes about Savile due to be aired at the same time.

Panorama released a statement which backed Rippon's claims that the Newsnight investigation was only dropped for editorial reasons and it had "found no evidence to contradict that view".

Journalist John Simpson said of the fallout: "This is the worst crisis that I can remember in my nearly 50 years at the BBC."

The BBC Trust issued a statement which they said it was "deeply concerning" the corporation has admitted there were inaccuracies in their own explanation into the Newsnight investigation.

The Trust added: While it is right that the Director General should seek to correct those inaccuracies, the public will want to know, as the Trust does, exactly what happened.

"The Chairman has therefore today asked for and received confirmation that Nick Pollard's independent inquiry will fully investigate how these inaccuracies came about and the handling of them once they became apparent.

"In line with its responsibilities to the public, the Trust wants the inquiry to comprehensively establish the facts surrounding the Newsnight issue as soon as possible.

"The inquiry will reach its conclusions independently of the BBC Trust and the Executive Board, and the Trust will publish the reports along with any actions it sees necessary as a result."

Met Police said the number of potential child abuse victims involving Savile could be in excess of 200.