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BBC appoints barrister to lead independent review into pubcaster, Tim Westwood

UK pubcaster the BBC has appointed a barrister as an independent reviewer to fully examine what was known at the BBC about concerns regarding DJ Tim Westwood’s conduct during his time with the corporation.

Tim Davie

Westwood was accused by seven women of sexual misconduct in incidents occurring between 1992 and 2017, and many more women have spoken out since the initial allegations. The UK pubcaster’s current director general, Tim Davie, oversaw the radio division for four of those years while the offending was taking place.

The BBC board made the decision following an expedited review by the broadcaster’s internal investigations team after BBC News and newspaper the Guardian published allegations of sexual misconduct against Westwood in April.

Westwood worked as a DJ for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra for almost 20 years, joining in 1994 and leaving in 2013. Davie was director of audio and music between 2008 and 2012.

One of Davie’s predecessors as director general, George Entwistle, resigned after just 54 days in the role in 2012 in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal and a subsequent cover-up by the corporation’s Newsnight programme.

Gemma White QC, supported by law firm Linklaters, has been instructed to lead the external review.

Nick Serota, the BBC board’s senior independent director, said: “It is vital that this work is able to command the full confidence of those who have, or may wish, to come forward, as well as the wider public, and it is for that reason the BBC board believes there should be independent oversight.

“I have asked that the next stage of this work be completed within the next six months. However, I want to be clear this is not a hard deadline and if new issues emerge, then time will be made available to properly explore them. Our main objective must be to discover the facts.

“In light of the BBC’s internal review, I believe that there may have been occasions in the past when the BBC should have further explored issues that were being raised.

“It now appears there are allegations against Tim Westwood dating to before, during and after his employment with the BBC and also elsewhere. The BBC is willing to work with any other employers in order to fully establish what happened.”

Serota noted that the issues identified so far relating to the BBC took place before the Dame Janet Smith Review, which was commissioned in 2012 to investigate the BBC’s connection to the sexual abuse committed by former TV and radio host Savile.

“As a result of Dame Janet’s work, the BBC today is a significantly safer place to work, but we should also use this as an opportunity to ensure the BBC is following the very best practice – and indeed setting the benchmark across the media industry,” Serota said, adding that he has called on an assessment into whether any current processes and procedures require updating or improving.

He concluded: “Finally, we owe it to those who have spoken out and raised issues to learn more about what took place and to give others the opportunity to tell us about their experiences. I would urge anyone with further information to respond to the call for evidence. This is important, of course, for them personally, but also to ensure that the BBC and other organisations are best placed to act in the future.”


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