Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Urgent question on Jimmy Savile - 15/10/12

Savile urgent question 151012Today I asked Maria Miller about the BBC’s planned independent inquiries following an urgent question about Jimmy Savile. You can read what I said below:

I’d like to support what the Secretary of State has just said to the House today. Everyone has been sickened by the vile abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile and it is impossible to overstate the suffering caused to those he abused. 

And what has deepened the revulsion is that this happened at the BBC – an institution so loved and trusted it’s known as ‘auntie’. 

This has cast a stain on the BBC. 

Does she agree that no-one should be complacent and believe that sexual abuse by people in positions of power at the BBC happened then but could not happen now.  

And that’s why the BBC should proceed now to review all its policies and processes on protection of children, sexual harassment and whistle blowing, to be sure that the right policies and processes are in place and that they are properly enforced.  That does not need to wait for the police investigation. 

Will she agree that this must apply to all employees, including those at the very top – senior executives and top talent. 

Clearly, it was Jimmy Savile’s exalted celebrity status that gave him a sense of impunity. 

Can I strongly support her recognition that  people will want to be confident that the inquiries the BBC is setting up will be genuinely independent and that people will want to know when they can be established and when they will report. 

And can I support the Honourable Member’s recognition that this is a problem that goes wider than the BBC – that there are still countless young women and men who have been abused but who have never complained because they feel a great burden of shame, guilt and disgust, and fear that they won’t be believed.  

Shouldn’t our very strong and clear message to them be – come forward now.  Seek the support you need to redress the wrong that has been done to you and in so doing not only get the justice you deserve but also protect others in the future.

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