A Panorama episode could ruin ongoing probes into historical child sex abuse by VIP perverts, a campaigner has warned.
Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, says if victims’ stories are not handled sympathetically others will be less likely to speak out.
The hour-long show by the BBC – which was accused of botching its handling of the Jimmy Savile furore – screens this week. It will focus on how news about probes has come out and who has been driving it.
The episode – The VIP Paedophile Ring: What’s the Truth? – is not expected to restrict itself to one particular police operation or set of allegations.
But it will ask if detectives have described some claims as “credible and true” despite having no hard evidence or corroboration.
Mr Saunders, who sits on the victims and survivors consultancy panel of the Goddard Inquiry, said: “I was interviewed. How they edit it I won’t know until it’s out. I was assured it would be balanced.
“If it’s not and they make something huge out of the fact that once in a blue moon you get someone whose memory is distorted, that is unhelpful. That would be detrimental to child protection and the ongoing inquiry.
“Many survivors are vulnerable people. If something appears to be an attack on other survivors and their integrity that may dissuade them from coming forward.”
When radio DJ Savile’s depravity emerged, the BBC was criticised for failing to act on tip-offs and rumours over the years. It also drew flak for axing a Newsnight probe on him.
Stuart Hall, another child sex fiend who worked for the BBC, was snared when a victim spoke out after seeing reports on Savile.
The Panorama show has already been blasted by MP John Mann. He tweeted last month: “Panorama acting very oddly on child abuse. Twice in three months asked for interview and then vanished. Looking like a hatchet job on survivors.”