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Thompson, the incoming New York Times CEO, who was BBC director-general from 2004 until last month, is among those facing questions from lawmakers. Thompson has insisted he never met Savile, was unaware of rumors about his behavior and had little knowledge of the expose that was canceled late last year just as other BBC divisions were planning tributes to the late entertainer.

In his letter to Times staff, Sulzberger said Thompson had thoroughly explained his handling of the issue.

Mark has provided a detailed account of that matter, and I am satisfied that he played no role in the cancellation of the segment,” Sulzberger wrote.

“Our opinion was then and remains now that he possesses high ethical standards and is the ideal person to lead our company,” the letter said.

For almost 20 years, Savile made children’s dreams come true on a popular TV show, “Jim’ll Fix It.” He was also the original host of the music program “Top of the Pops,” which ran from 1964 to 2006, featuring performances by everyone from The Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols.

Savile championed a host of good causes, frequently running marathons to raise money. He helped to collect millions for the creation of a national spinal injuries center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in southern England and bequeathed money for a heart unit at Leeds infirmary called the Savile Institute.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to charity and entertainment and received a papal knighthood from the Vatican. Prince Charles was among those who paid tribute when Savile died last year.


David Caruso in New York contributed to this story.