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MP quizzed in House of Commons
BASINGSTOKE MP and Government Culture Secretary Maria Miller has backed the BBC’s handling of its planned inquiries into the Sir Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Mrs Miller was quizzed about the Savile controversy on Monday by MPs in the House of Commons, and is now facing mounting pressure from Labour leader Ed Miliband to set up an independent inquiry into the late TV presenter’s alleged abuse of children.
On Monday night, the Labour leader said the Government should set up a broad, independent inquiry looking into Savile’s alleged activities at the BBC, Stoke Mandeville hospital, and Broadmoor.
This would run alongside the police’s current investigation and the BBC’s two internal inquiries. The BBC is investigating why a Newsnight investigation into Savile was not aired at the end of last year, as well as the “culture and practices” of the corporation while Savile worked there.
In the House of Commons, Mrs Miller rejected the idea of a Government inquiry, and said she was “confident” that the BBC is taking the claims “very seriously”. She added that a Government inquiry would hamper the police’s own investigation into the scandal.
In the Commons, Mrs Miller said: “In terms of a wider inquiry, we have a police investigation ongoing at the moment. Everybody would agree that it is really important that those individuals who have been victims know that that investigation can go on unfettered, and that that should be our priority at this stage.”
Mrs Miller was later criticised following a comment where she sugges-ted that the BBC Newsnight investigation into Savile was “inappropria-tely pulled”.
A statement was later released saying that she had mixed up her words and meant to say “allegedly pulled”. Her original statement had led to headlines that she had prejudged the outcome on why the Newsnight piece was not aired.
She later said on Twitter: “Sorry if statement unclear. Referring to *allegations* that Newsnight item was pulled inappropriately. Not prejudging BBC inquiry.” The police now believe that Savile, who died in October last year aged 84, was involved in an alleged catalogue of child sex abuse that could have spanned six decades and involved around 60 victims.