PARIS – The one-time front runner is at the centre of a scandal involving his wife Penelope and the alleged payment for a non existent parliamentary job. He told a press conference today that he been summoned to appear on March 15 and that this could lead to preliminary charges. Fillon says he’s not been treated fairly and that he’s been the subject of a ‘political assassination’.
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A Newsnight investigation into claims of abuse by former BBC star Jimmy Savile should not have been dropped, the head of the one of the most powerful media organisations in the world admitted today.
George Entwistle, Director General of the BBC, also told the House of Commons Select Committee that the organisation was investigating up to 10 “serious allegations” involving past and present employees.
George Entwistle who often looked uncomfortable during a two-hour grilling from MPs, said: “There is no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved in the years – the culture and practices of the BBC seems to allow Jimmy Savile to do what he did – will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us.
“This is a gravely serious matter and one cannot look back at it with anything other than horror, frankly, that… his activities went on as long as they did undetected.”
Savile, who was also a DJ and died last year aged 84, was described by police as a predatory sex offender. They believe he may have abused many people – including young girls – over a 40-year period and a criminal investigation is under way. On Monday, the BBC’s Panorama programme reported on the abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile, as well as the decision by Newsnight last December to drop its investigations into the claims.
Newsnight editor Peter Rippon had made the decision to drop the Newsnight investigation “on his own account”, the director general said.
“I came away from Panorama firmly of the view that that investigation, even if in the judgement of the editor it wasn’t ready for transmission at the point he was looking at it, should have been allowed to continue.
“What became clear to us after the blog was published was that what had happened on Newsnight, there was a significant, it seemed, difference of opinion between the people working on the investigation and the editor, Peter Rippon, who commissioned the investigation.”
An independent inquiry led by former Sky head of news Nick Pollard will examine why the Newsnight investigation was dropped. George Entwistle said he asked Newsnight editor Peter Rippon to step aside because of inaccuracies in his blog. George Entwistle was also asked about a brief conversation with BBC director of news Helen Boaden last December about the possibility of Newsnight running their report about Savile, while Mr Entwistle, as then BBC director of Vision, was planning Christmas tribute pieces to the presenter.
“The key message I took away was that it wasn’t yet clear to Helen whether it was going to stand up or not.
“I wouldn’t have had any qualms about making any changes we needed to make to the Christmas schedule.”
When asked if it had been a failure by him to ask further questions about the nature of the report, he said he didn’t want to show “undue interest”, adding: “I don’t believe I did fail… the system as a whole doesn’t seem to have got this right.”
Asked whether he now regretted running the tribute programmes for Savile, Mr Entwistle told MPs: “In the light of what’s happening, of course I do.”
He added that the Panorama programme pointed to the BBC’s health as a media organisation, rather than being a “symptom of chaos”, because it showed the organisation’s capacity to investigate itself.
He said no other news organisation in the world would do this.
As well as the Pollard review, former Court of Appeal judge Dame Janet Smith will lead a review into the culture and practices of the BBC during Savile’s time at the corporation and will also examine if the BBC’s child protection and whistleblowing policies are fit for purpose.
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The Banking Industry needs urgent reform, Sir Mervyn King, Bank of England Governor said today.
Speaking at the launch of the Bank’s twice-yearly Financial Stability Report, Sir Mervyn said the banking culture and structure suffered from “excessive levels of compensation, shoddy treatment of customers, as well as deceitful manipulation of one of the most important interest rates.”
His comments accompanied news today that the UK’s big four banks have been found to have mis-sold complicated financial products to thousands of small businesses.
And there was also the mis-selling personal payment insurance to people who either did not need it, would not be able to claim on it, or did not know they had been sold it.
Sir Mervyn said: “We can see we need a real change in the culture of the industry.
“We don’t need any inquiry to know what we should be doing. There must be many people who work in banking today who know that they are honest, hard-working and feel they have been let down by some of their colleagues and indeed their leaders. What I hope is that everyone – everyone – now understands that something went very wrong with the UK banking industry and we need to put it right.”
He called for the government to implement the recommendations of the Vickers Commission on banking, which said that more risky investment banking should be separated from day-to-day banking needs of individuals and small businesses.”
Simon Walker, the head of the Institute of Directors, said in a statement: “As well as ripping off their customers, they have also harmed the reputation of business as a whole – they should feel deep shame for the damage they have done.”