Retired judge planned to answer no questions at press conference for inquiry report
By David Hencke | 16 February 2016
“At the time of writing, this information is not available”
– Dame Janet Smith, review report, seeking more details from police
Police have found the missing diary of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after allegedly being raped by a disc-jockey from Top of the Pops.
Exaro can reveal that the diary has been handed to Dame Janet Smith for her inquiry into sexual abuse by the late Sir Jimmy Savile, one of the BBC’s biggest stars, at the broadcaster.
Meanwhile, Smith was planning to refuse to answer questions at a press conference to unveil her inquiry report, Exaro can also reveal.
The Smith review announced yesterday that the final report has been submitted to Lord Hall, BBC director-general, and expects it to be published on Thursday next week.
Well-placed sources said that the Metropolitan Police Service turned up some 30 boxes of material on the death of Claire McAlpine – including her diary.
The Met, which had previously told Smith that it was unable to find these files, passed them to her review.
Smith’s draft report, which was leaked to Exaro, will incorporate this newly-found material.
One source said: “There was a large volume of material to analyse.”
Her mother, Vera, had shortly before made a complaint to the BBC that a DJ had invited Claire back to his flat after Top of the Pops and “seduced” her. Claire had been watching a recording of TOTP, dancing with the audience.
Smith, a retired judge, said in her draft report that the BBC carried out a “wholly inadequate” investigation that “prejudged” the case. She did not name the DJ, giving him the code, “A7”.
The duty office’s log of the mother’s complaint to the BBC had gone missing, Smith said.
Also missing was the record of telephone calls and Press log related to the complaint. “Absence of documents is, I must confess, hard to fathom,” Smith wrote.
Vera, who has since died, told the News of the World, which reported on Claire’s suicide in 1971, that she had found her daughter’s diary. In it, she said, Claire had written about her encounters with “A7” and another DJ.
Smith made clear in her draft report that she had not at that point seen the diary.
The police looked into the teenager’s suicide in 1971 on behalf of the coroner.
Smith cited a police report on the case, which quoted a detective chief superintendent as saying: “Our enquiries into this matter have revealed that in fact this child was highly emotional, stage struck and living in a world of fantasy.
“That she had, through her own efforts, established some contact with disc-jockeys, pop singers and other personalities is undoubtedly true but the extent of her involvement is grossly exaggerated.” But Smith added: “It is not clear who has been exaggerating. The report does substantiate these conclusions by reference to evidence in the way that it does with other allegations.”
Smith could not interview the officer because he had since died.
She also wanted to examine the diary for herself, as well as other missing material.
Smith is expected to give a press conference to present her report, alongside Hall.
But she was planning to follow a precedent set by Lord Justice Leveson, who refused to answer journalists’ questions at the press conference in 2012 to launch his inquiry report into newspaper practices.
One source said: “Dame Janet will present the report, but take no questions. The BBC will answer.”
However, Smith made the plans before her report was leaked to Exaro, and she may be forced to change the format of the press conference as a result of the disclosure.
Any refusal by Smith to answer questions is bound to prompt a furious reaction.
She is likely to face questions about why she delayed publication of the report since last May on the basis of prejudicing ongoing cases when the draft posed no such risk.
Journalists would also want to question Smith about any watering down of the contents of her report from the leaked draft.
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