Former judge opens second BBC inquiry

 Sir Jimmy Savile, a fixture on British TV for decades who died at 84, is at the center of a sexual predator scandal involving the BBC.
Lewis Whyld/AP/2008 File
Sir Jimmy Savile, a fixture on British TV for decades who died at 84, is at the center of a sexual predator scandal involving the BBC.

LONDON — The British Broadcasting Corp. said Monday that a former senior judge has begun an inquiry into the corporation’s ‘‘culture and practices’’ that lay behind the sexual abuse scandal surrounding television host Jimmy Savile.

The inquiry, one of two independent reviews commissioned by the BBC, opened on the first anniversary of Savile’s death at age 84 and a day after British police, widening the scandal, arrested a former pop star in connection with the case.

The Metropolitan Police on Sunday arrested Paul Gadd, better known as Gary Glitter from the 1970s heyday of glam rock, who is a convicted pedophile. Gadd’s arrest came after accusations that he abused a teenage girl on the premises of the BBC. He was released on bail after being questioned in a London police station.


Since the British television station ITV broadcast a documentary about Savile earlier this month, some 300 people have come forward saying that they were abused by the outlandish television star.

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They described a depraved environment in Savile’s dressing room at the BBC studios where teenage girls were molested by Savile and others, including Gadd.

The investigation by Dame Janet Smith, a former appeals court judge, is one of two that the BBC has commissioned into the scandal.

The other by Nick Pollard, a former head of the rival Sky News, is looking specifically into a decision last December by an editor at the BBC to cancel an investigation of Savile’s misconduct at a time when other sections of the corporation were planning Christmastime tributes to him.

Compared with the Leveson Inquiry, which involved public hearings on the behavior of the British press in the separate phone hacking scandal, the inquiries into the BBC’s behavior seemed more opaque.


A BBC spokesman and a person representing Smith said her inquiry had started, but they declined to say who was appearing before it or whether it was being held in public.

In response to a reporter’s questions, Carolyn E. Pepper of the law firm Reed Smith released a statement saying: ‘‘Dame Janet’s view is that it is not appropriate for her to give interviews or provide comment regarding the review at this time. Press information will be issued in due course.’’

Over several years, at least seven people had complained to four separate police forces about Savile’s alleged behavior, one of them accusing him of molesting her in a trailer in the parking lot of the main BBC television studios in west London.

The case has shocked the nation and shone an intense spotlight on the BBC. Nagging questions remain about why the investigation by the ‘‘Newsnight’’ program was abruptly canceled, and how much BBC executives knew about allegations that one of its stars had engaged in widespread sexual molestation in the 1970s and 1980s.