- Editor of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, makes claim on Twitter
- The tweet prompts furious speculation online about the identity of the alleged paedophile, who is still alive
- Channel Four’s Michael Crick claims he has spoken to the man, who denies allegations and will sue if Newsnight shows investigation
- BBC refuses to confirm if the investigation into the alleged abuser exists
The BBC has been dragged into a fresh storm over a second Newsnight paedophile investigation, it emerged today.
Editor of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, mysteriously tweeted that a ‘senior political figure’ was to be outed as a child-abuser on the programme this evening.
The investigation about the unnamed man, who is alive, is being looked at by the BBC’s legal team, MailOnline understands, but the corporation is refusing to confirm the probe exists.
This is despite Mr Overton’s crystal clear message online: ‘If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.’
Explosive: Editor of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, revealed the scoop online
Scoop: Newsnight, presented by Jeremy Paxman, could reveal the man’s identity this evening, but the BBC has so far refused to comment
Mr Overton’s bureau is a not-for-profit organisation which works with news outlets to publish in-depth investigations. It says it has been working on this project for the BBC.
It piles more pressure on the beleaguered corporation after last month it was revealed Newsnight dumped an investigation into paedophile Sir Jimmy Savile, even though they had interviewed his victims.
It took a ITV documentary to reveal that Jimmy Savile had carried out decades of abuse involving hundreds of children, some of whom were attacked on BBC premises.
It emerged that Newsnight had carried out its own investigation into the paedophile DJ – including an interview with the same victim in the ITV documentary- nearly a year before.
Tweets: Channel Four political correspondent Michael Crick says he has spoken to the man at the centre of the allegations, who has denied he is a paedophile and said that he will sue if Newsnight go ahead with the film
Claims: Iain Overton says that subject to BBC legal approval then their investigation will be shown on BBC 2 tonight
A BBC team spent six weeks probing allegations that the presenter abused pupils at a school in Surrey, speaking to at least four women who claimed they had been assaulted or knew about events.
But the report was shelved at the last minute at the request of the programme’s editor Peter Rippon. It was not until last month that the BBC aired its own investigation into the scandal, on Panorama.
It covered both Savile’s crimes and the Corporation’s reaction. Mr Rippon stood aside from his role at Newsnight after the BBC said his explanation for shelving the story was ‘inaccurate or incomplete’.
The corporation’s director general George Entwistle was hauled before a select committee last week to explain why and how it happened.
He denied that the broadcaster helped cover up allegations that Savile preyed on women.
And now there are huge doubts about whether this latest investigation into the mystery political figure will be broadcast.
Channel Four political correspondent Michael Crick says he has spoken to the man at the centre of the allegations, who denied that he was a paedophile and said he would sue if Newsnight broadcasts anything on him tonight.
Savile is now believed to have been one of the UK’s most prolific abusers, with about 300 possible victims but the BBC faces questions about whether they helped cover-up his sexual crimes
THE JOURNALIST WHOSE TWEET SENT THE BBC INTO A TAILSPIN
Iain Overton’s tweet that he was helping Newsnight unmask a ‘senior political figure’ as a paedophile sent the internet wild with speculation about who this abuser might be.
But ever since his tweet at around 10am on Friday the BBC has refused to admit that his investigation even exists let alone whether they will broadcast it tonight.
Mr Overton is managing editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an organisation gaining a reputation for big scoops since it was formed at London’s City University in April 2010. It boasts that it has helped produce stories that led to 47 front pages in the national press in that time.
Its website says: ‘Our team of journalists bolsters original news by producing high-quality investigations for press and broadcast media with the aim of educating the public and the media on both the realities of today’s world and the value of honest reporting.’
Mr Overton was a commissioning executive at ITN and then a senior producer at the BBC before taking his current role.
Investigations he has worked on in the past two years include an exposé on ‘counterfeit pharmaceuticals, corporate killings in Iraq, human rights abuses by the Brazilian police and Glasgow gang-land murders linked to security contracts,’ he says on his website.
He has won one Peabody Award, two Amnesty International Awards, a OneWorld Award, a Prix Circom, a BAFTA Scotland and 3 RTS nominations.
MailOnline has tried to contact Mr Overton but he has been unavailable for comment.
He also added that the man said he had not been approached for a comment by the BBC, despite it being earmarked for tonight’s Newsnight.
The Metropolitan Police have told MailOnline they have not been handed anything on the subject of the investigation.
The row comes after Labour MP Tom Watson shocked the Commons last month by alleging there was ‘clear intelligence’ linking a former Number 10 aide with a notorious group of sex offenders.
He has compiled a dossier allegations for the Metropolitan Police, which is currently dealing with hundreds of allegations of abuse against Jimmy Savile.
But it is unclear if this is linked to the Newsnight investigation.
Mr Watson suggested a Number 10 insider was named in files connected to the conviction of a child porn smuggler in the early 1990s.
He told the Commons: ‘The evidence used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.
‘One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former prime minister who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.
‘The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.’
Mr Cameron said Mr Watson ‘raises a very difficult and complex case’ and he was ‘not entirely sure which former prime minister he is referring to’.
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