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BBC Savile colleague held for suspected sexual offences

17 november 2012, 13:19
0
The BBC on Thursday agreed to pay a former politician £185,000 in damages over false child sex abuse claims, hours after police reportedly arrested another of its former presenters for sexual offences, AFP reports.

Radio and TV presenter Dave Lee Travis was reportedly detained as part of the British police investigation set up in the wake of allegations against his BBC colleague Jimmy Savile.

Police said a man in his 60s was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences, although they did not officially name him, before being released on bail until January.

But British media widely reported that Travis, 67, had been questioned by detectives.

Travis, nicknamed the Hairy Cornflake, worked with Savile at BBC Radio 1 during the 1970s and 1980s and was one of the most recognisable faces in British broadcasting.

Last year Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said his World Service music request show had helped her to get through more than two decades under house arrest.

Travis met Suu Kyi when she visited BBC studios during a visit to Britain in June.

There is no suggestion that any accusations of paedophilia have been made against him, although two women have alleged in recent weeks that he groped them in the 1970s. He strongly denied the allegations when they were made.

Savile, one of the BBC's biggest stars for more than two decades, is believed to have preyed on under-age girls, sometimes on BBC premises.

Meanwhile, the BBC announced it would pay former politician Alistair McAlpine £185,000 ($294,000, 229,000 euros) in damages for falsely implicating him in child sex abuse allegations.

A statement issued by the BBC late Thursday said: "The BBC has agreed terms with Lord McAlpine to settle his claim of libel against the Corporation. The settlement is comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made."

McAlpine, Conservative party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher, responded: "I am delighted to have reached a quick and early settlement with the BBC. I have been conscious that any settlement will be paid by the licence fee-payers, and have taken that into account in reaching agreement with the BBC.

"We will now be continuing to seek settlements from other organisations that have published defamatory remarks and individuals who have used Twitter to defame me."

The broadcaster has already apologised for linking McAlpine with abuse at a children's home in Wrexham in Wales in the 1970s.

The report broadcast by the BBC's flagship current affairs show Newsnight did not name him but he was quickly identified on social networking sites.

The false allegations, coming as the BBC was under intense scrutiny over its decision to spike a report about child abuse claims surrounding Savile, plunged the world's largest broadcaster into one of the worst crises in its history.

BBC director-general George Entwistle has resigned over the report, while two other top executives have also stood aside.

McAlpine said Thursday in an interview with BBC radio he had been "in a state of shock" after he heard of the allegations.

"To suddenly find I was mixed up in all this -- and I didn't know what Newsnight was going to say -- it really was a horrendous shock.

It emerged that an abuse victim who had implicated McAlpine in the Newsnight report had not been shown a photograph of him.

Only after the report was broadcast did he realise McAlpine was not the man who had assaulted him.

McAlpine's lawyer Andrew Reid said that legal letters would be sent to individuals who mentioned the peer's name on the Internet, particularly Twitter.

Sally Bercow, wife of the House of Commons speaker, is believed to be one of those in line to be sued, and wrote on her Twitter account that she was seeking legal advice.

Police said Thursday the number of victims in the Savile investigation has risen to 450 from the figure of 300 it gave last month.

Although the vast majority of allegations are against the eccentric presenter, who died last year at the age of 84, the Scotland Yard probe has widened to include other figures in the entertainment industry.

Former glam rock star and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, comedian Freddie Starr and a 73-year-old man have been arrested and bailed in connection with the investigation.

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