TONY Blackburn has said the BBC “scandalously” sacked him for “telling the truth” and has tarnished his good name.
The veteran DJ, who is taking legal action, was fired because his evidence to the Jimmy Savile sex abuse inquiry ‘’fell short’’ of the standards demanded, according to BBC Director General Tony Hall.
Blackburn, 73, who has accused the corporation of making him a ‘’scapegoat’’, denied in evidence that he had ever been made aware by the BBC of a complaint against him by a teenager in 1971 even though the corporation told the inquiry he had been.
Tony Blackburn statement in full
The allegation, which Blackburn has strenuously denied, was that he ‘’seduced’’ teenager Claire McAlpine after inviting her back to his flat following a recording of Top Of The Pops.
He has pointed out that the complaint was withdrawn, and Dame Janet Smith’s report made no suggestion that he was guilty of misconduct with the teenager, nor did a coroner’s inquest or a subsequent police inquiry into her death after she took her own life.
In a statement on Friday, he said: “Material from so-called ‘secret BBC memos’ from 1971 and 1972 has been published today as part of an attempt by the BBC to ‘prove’ that I was interviewed about the Claire McAlpine allegations 45 years ago.
“In fact there is no secret at all about these documents. I was made aware of them in 2012 and, again, when I voluntarily gave evidence to Dame Janet Smith’s enquiry. The evidence which I gave her was with the full knowledge of their existence and contents.
“As I told her, and have repeated publicly since, the contents of these documents are untrue. It is simply not true that I was interviewed by anyone at the BBC in 1971 or 1972 about these matters.
“The memos are part of the whitewash and cover-up which regrettably characterised the BBC’s handling of these allegations.
“There is no possible reason for me to do anything other than tell the truth about these matters since there was never any inappropriate behaviour between myself and Claire McAlpine and the investigations that the BBC says took place all supposedly led to my exoneration. The complaint was withdrawn shortly after it was made and subsequent coroner’s and police enquiries also accepted there was no substance to it.
“Scandalously, the BBC has placed me in the ridiculous position of being sacked for telling the truth about an investigation which it failed to carry out properly, if at all, into a complaint made against me 45 years ago - a complaint which was totally without any basis in truth.
“In linking my dismissal to the Dame Janet Smith Report the BBC has, as well as taking away the livelihood I loved, caused my good name to be tarnished.”
In her report, Dame Janet said she ‘’preferred’’ the evidence that Blackburn was in fact interviewed by BBC officials about the complaint despite his denial.
Lord Hall said the corporation had ‘’parted company’’ with Blackburn, referred to as A7 in the report, because of his evidence to the inquiry.
Asked why the DJ was sacked, the BBC boss said: ‘’Look, 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 has said, she’s 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 inquiry demanded.
‘’I am making no judgment or accusations about events or behaviours about what happened in the past, but simply about what he’s done now and what he was doing in front of this really crucial inquiry.’’
Speaking to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2, broadcaster Nina Myskow said it is a “black day” for the BBC.
“I’m absolutely shocked, I think this is a very black day for the BBC and a black day for Tony Hall,” she said.
“It should be a black day for the BBC because of the revelations about the whole Savile episode, but in fact that’s been buried very cleverly by the BBC as usual by sacking Tony Blackburn.”
Asked if she thought the sacking was deliberately timed, she said: “I think it’s absolutely deliberate. Tony Hall has fallen in my estimation, I think it’s utterly scandalous.”
She described Blackburn as “a thoroughly decent, upstanding man”, adding: “I mean, the only crime he’s been capable of as far as I’m concerned is duff jokes and dodgy hair.”
Piers Morgan tweeted: “Looks to me like BBC have fried Tony Blackburn to distract attention from its own Savile failings.”