Letter Raises More Questions About When CEO of The NY Times — in His Previous Position as Chief of the BBC — Learned About Sex Abuse Accusations

Nov 16, 2012  •  Post A Comment

"A legal letter sent on behalf of Mark Thompson, the former director general of the BBC [and the current CEO of The New York Times], raises questions about his assertions that he learned of accusations of sexual abuse against its longtime host Jimmy Savile only after leaving the corporation’s top job," reports Matthew Purdy in The New York Times.

The story says: "The timing and substance of the letter are significant because Mr. Thompson, who began work [on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012] as president and chief executive of The New York Times Company, said in October that ‘during my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.’"

The article notes: "In the letter, sent 10 days before Mr. Thompson left the BBC in September, lawyers representing him and another executive threatened to sue The Sunday Times in London over contentions in an article it was preparing that they had been involved in killing a BBC investigation of Mr. Savile. Interviews show that the letter included a summary of the alleged abuse, including the allegation that some abuse might have occurred at the BBC."

The story adds: "An aide to the former BBC chief said that although Mr. Thompson had orally authorized the sending of the letter, he had not known the details of its contents. ‘It’s not clear if he was shown it, but he doesn’t remember reading it,’ said the aide, a personal adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give Mr. Thompson’s version of events. Mr. Thompson declined to comment."

In recent days Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, has reiterated that Thompson has both his "full support" and the "full support" of The Times’ Board of Directors. TVWeek asked Sulzberger today, via email, whether any of that support has eroded. We had not received a response by the time we published this item.

UPDATE on 11/16/2012 at 12:30 p.m., PT: A spokesperson from The New York Times called us to respond to the email we sent Sulzberger. The spokesperson said: "The situation is a little different since we made those remarks. They were made before Mark Thompson started as our CEO. He is now our CEO, and nothing has changed." TVWeek then asked if that meant that Thompson still had the "full support" of both Sulzberger and the Board. The spokesperson said, "Yes that would imply that they both still have full support" in Thompson.

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