Socialist Worker

Stuart Hall’s abuse relates to a culture of bullying—not the ‘permissive’ 1970s

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2352

BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has admitted 14 charges of indecently assaulting girls—one aged nine.

The confession was revealed last week. The offences took place between 1967 and 1985, but he was still working for the BBC until the time of his arrest

Former colleagues say Hall had a “medical” room set aside for him at BBC Manchester where he could bring girls and women.

The revelations echo the Jimmy Savile case.

One said, “Everyone was talking about him and the young girls but nobody did anything about it.”

Once again some commentators are trying to explain these offences as part of a period when more liberated views about sex led people to think “anything goes”.

Will Wyatt, a former director of BBC Television, said, “But temptations do come people’s way, in showbiz, in theatre, in pop music. I would be amazed if some bonking didn’t go on somewhere in the BBC.”

Paul Jackson, used to be an entertainment director at the BBC. He said, “I’m really not saying that some of these things were in any way justifiable but equally it is hopeless to try to apply today’s mores to a very different time.”


To say that serial abuse of young girls on BBC premises was a product of sexual liberation deliberately distorts the meaning of sexual liberation. 

In any period such behaviour would be seen as abuse. 

In fact as women became more confident and assertive they won improvements in their rights at work and in society more generally. 

This often made it harder for abusers like Hall and Savile.

Yet a new survey of the BBC by QC Dinah Rose, published on the same day as Hall’s admission of guilt, reported a “strong undercurrent of fear” for employees when it came to reporting bullying and harassment. 

The enquiry found 37 complaints of sexual harassment at the BBC in the past six years.

The Rose survey, commissioned as a result of the Savile cases, disclosed that some BBC workers checked the corridor outside the room after giving testimony. 

They wanted to ensure a manager would not spot them and victimise them.

Rose discovered the biggest problem was management bullying. 

People feared challenging this because of “concerns about current and future employment opportunities”.

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Article information

Tue 7 May 2013, 18:58 BST
Issue No. 2352
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