Courageous investigative journalist and ex-BBC News correspondent Liz MacKean, 52, who exposed infamous pedophile Jimmy Saville – and ultimately resigned in 2013 over the BBC’s decision to refuse to air her investigation into Saville – has died after suffering a stroke.
Only in 2016 did her investigative work exposing Saville’s rampant molestation of children see the light of day on the BBC, featured as Abused: The Untold Story.
Commentary by Jon Masters,
While it was an open secret within the UK corridors of power, it was not yet public knowledge that Saville was a serial child molester, thus MacKean’s investigative work on Saville’s abuse of children would have blown the doors off the UK’s power elite’s dirty secret.
Sadly, the power players in British media worked diligently to cover up the obscene sexually predatory behavior of Saville by not airing MacKean’s expose until after his death. The public only became fully aware of Saville’s rampant pedophilia a year later, after a Panorama documentary on ITV.
Current BBC director of news, James Harding, paid tribute to MacKean saying she had earned a reputation as a “remarkably tenacious and resourceful reporter”.
“In Northern Ireland, she won the trust of all sides and produced some of the most insightful and hard-hitting reporting of the conflict,” he said.
“It was as an investigative reporter that she really shone, shining a light on issues from the dumping of toxic waste off the African coast to Jimmy Savile, the story for which she is probably best known.”
Rather than tempering the growing public awareness of Saville’s crimes against children, the BBC’s decision to attempt to cover-up his crimes by shelving the story only served to make headlines around the world – with the investigation ultimately being recognized by the London Press Club with a scoop of the year award.
According to a report in UK’s Mirror:
In a Panorma special about its handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal in 2012 MacKean explained how former Newsnight editor Peter Rippon was initially excited.
But she adds: “It was an abrupt change in tone from one day ‘excellent, let’s prepare to get this thing on air’ to ‘hold on’.”
MacKean says she was left with the clear impression that Mr Rippon was feeling under pressure.
She wrote to a friend documenting a conversation she had with her boss on November 30 – a month after Savile’s death: “PR [Peter Rippon] says if the bosses aren’t happy [he] can’t go to the wall on this one.”
She tells the programme: “I was very unhappy the story didn’t run because I felt we’d spoken to people who collectively deserved to be heard and they weren’t heard… I felt very much that I’d let them down.”
Interestingly, Mark Thompson, the current CEO of the New York Times, which has often taken to attempting to normalize pedophilia, was Director-General of the BCC at the time, which is considered the most powerful position in the U.K. television industry. Thompson was implicated in attempting to cover-up the open secret of Saville’s rampant molestation of children – a charge which he denies.
The Newsnight reporter must have worked so hard to get Karin Ward to talk openly on camera. Karin was one of several girls from Duncroft Approved School who were groomed by Jimmy Savile, with the promise of trips to Top of the Pops. Karin, now 54, had not spoken about her ordeal for 40 years. When MacKean and producer Meirion Jones tracked her down last November, she was suffering from cancer. How the poor woman must have recoiled from the prospect of a gruelling interview in which she would have to reveal shameful acts she had long suppressed. Somehow, MacKean convinced her.
A tenacious and compassionate reporter, MacKean will have done all she could to reassure her fragile witness. Jimmy “Ow’s‑About-That-Then?” Savile was dead and buried. Ward could trust the BBC flagship news programme to bring the truth about his disgusting behaviour into the open. Here, at long last, was her chance to be heard and believed.
As an interviewer myself, I can imagine the relief, even satisfaction, MacKean felt as the camera rolled, and Karin – the girl she once was still visible in that gaunt, sweet face – told of jaunts in Savile’s Rolls, and the sordid fare for those rides. There was one, yet more monstrous memory: 14-year-old Karin was in Savile’s dressing room at the BBC, which was “full of people”, when she saw a second notorious pop pervert having sex with another Duncroft girl.
Shocking hardly begins to cover it. MacKean must have returned to the office feeling confident she had her story. This was not only a scoop, it was a chance to smash the halo of St Jimmy of Television Centre.
So imagine how MacKean felt when she read an email from her Newsnight boss, Peter Rippon: “I think the key is whether we can establish the CPS did drop the case for the reasons the women say. That makes it a better story – our sources so far are just the women and a second-hand briefing.”
Just the women? That is how a senior news executive chose to describe Karin Ward and the other victims who had overcome fear and self-loathing to speak to the BBC. Four decades before, their protests had gone unheard because they were “only girls” from an approved school. Now they were “just the women”. Just the women who, as vulnerable teenagers, had been molested by a peroxide pied piper using the BBC as both cover story and brothel.
Revealing the breadth of the cover up, in a leaked email, MacKean alleged that Newsnight’s editor had implied the witnesses were not really victims:
“He resorts to saying, Well, it was 40 years so, the girls were teenagers, not too young… they weren’t the worst kind of sexual offenses etc.”
Essentially, the BBC turned a blind eye as young girls were seduced by the lure of fame and fortune and groomed into participating in orgies in Saville’s dressing room – yet a senior BBC News executive thinks Saville’s offenses weren’t the “worst kind of sexual offenses, etc.”.
As the Telegraph reported:
After Savile died, a year ago on Monday, a commemorative page was put up on the BBC website. As requested, viewers shared their memories of “Ow’s-About-That-Then” Jimmy – only, instead of a light-entertainment legend, they recalled a dark, devious pervert. The Savile tribute page was hastily removed. Shouldn’t that have been the first sign that celebrations needed to be put on hold?
On Tuesday morning on Radio 4, a spokesman for the Association of People Abused in Childhood said something that cut through the week’s lies and obfuscation to pierce your heart: “Children seldom speak out, and when they do they are rarely believed.”
Liz MacKean did believe. Acting in the very best tradition of BBC journalism, she did her research and found out that Jim had fixed it to escape prosecution. She put together a powerful story that vindicated Savile’s victims and damned their doubters. The fact that the story was not broadcast, as Karin Ward was promised, is a scar on the face of the world’s most trusted broadcaster.
Make no mistake that the power-elite cover for their own, and only through the efforts of diligent investigative journalism are the lies of these power players ever exposed. Sadly, the powers that be continue to sweep the scourge of organized pedophilia under the rug as the UK inquiry, which implicated hundreds of politicians and celebrities, fell apart after the public began to understand the scope and breadth of the UK’s organized pedophilia rings.
Liz MacKean was a true hero for choosing to go up against a system that routinely attempts to hide the crimes of the rich and famous, while marginalizing the child victims into obscurity. Rather than allowing her work to be summarily dismissed as part of a larger cover-up, MacKean took a principled stand and resigned from the organization she had worked for her entire professional life. The world could certainly learn something from the MacKean’s righteous actions.