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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Tony Blackburn Dismissed by BBC

Veteran BBC presenter Tony Blackburn has been dismissed over inconsistencies in his evidence to the Dame Janet Smith Review.

Blackburn, 73, was interviewed by the Review team about allegations he was involved in the seduction of a 15-year-old Top Of The Pops dancer back in 1971.

The dancer, Claire McAlpine, who we wrote about last month, committed suicide only a few months after complaining that a mysterious celebrity, named only as "A7" in Dame Janet's report, had taken her back to his West London flat to seduce.

Contemporaneous records from the time indicate that Blackburn was questioned about the McAlpine allegations by a senior BBC executive, Bill Cotton.

However, when the Review team broached the subject with the BBC London DJ back in 2013, he flatly denied that a complaint had ever been made against him.

Dame Janet wrote: "In our interview, A7 denied that he was ever made aware that a complaint had been made against him and also denied that he was ever interviewed by Mr Cotton and/or Mr Preston (another BBC executive). He said that this was not a lapse of memory on his part; the interview had not taken place.

"It was pointed out to him that, if indeed there had been no interview, it was strange that Mr Preston should have written this memorandum and should have recorded his concern about the disparity between the account given by A7 at the interview and that given earlier by his agent. A7 could offer no explanation for this and said that he was 'mystified'.

"Later, through his solicitor, A7 accepted that I might well prefer the documentary evidence to his recollection on these issues. I do prefer that evidence and think that A7 was interviewed and denied the allegation."

It must be stressed that Dame Janet's report draws no conclusions about Blackburn's involvement, or otherwise, with Claire McAlpine, but there is a clear discrepancy between his account and that shown by BBC records.

That discrepancy was enough for the Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, to terminate Blackburn's employment with immediate effect.

Lord Hall said: "We have parted company. He has named himself, A7, as Tony Blackburn.

"Put this in context, this is one of the most important inquiries in the BBC's history and that has put an even greater responsibility on everyone who took part in that inquiry to co-operate fully and to be open.

"So many survivors and witnesses have honestly and openly co-operated fully and at great personal cost to themselves.

"As Dame Janet says, she has rejected his evidence and she has explained very clearly why.

"I have to take that extremely seriously. My interpretation of that is that Tony Blackburn fell short of the standards of evidence that such an enquiry demanded.

"I am making no judgement or accusations about events or behaviours that happened in the past, but simply about what he has done now and what he was doing in front of this really crucial inquiry."

Blackburn released a statement this morning where he denied any wrongdoing and claimed to have been made a scapegoat by the BBC.

He added: "I am not guilty of any inappropriate conduct: my lawyers will take immediate action against anyone suggesting that I was."

Sounds familiar.

We shall be writing more about the actual Dame Janet Smith Review report this weekend, having taken some time to read and digest its contents.

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Ray Turner said...

Interesting and sad, but at 73 it is probably time for Tony Blackburn to retire. I hope the matter ends here.

Anonymous said...

I hope it doesn't.

If he has indeed acting inappropriately with a minor, there should be no such safe haven. Ever.

I'm reading between the lines here, and I see a guilty man.

A young girl is dead, suicide, and someone caused that.

Stu H said...

Retire! The best radio presenter by a mile who clearly has been sold down the river by over paid pompous cowards to cover over the institutions royal mess ups! This man has done no wrong, fire the idiot who ever questioned his integrity and get Tony back where he should be! This is the biggest joke since knock knock, unbelievable folks! TV licence! I don't think so!!