LONDON (AFP) - An inquiry into the BBC's culture and practices got under way Monday with the corporation reeling from allegations of child abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile, one of its biggest stars. The probe begins a year to the day since the death of Savile, the eccentric presenter now considered one of the most prolific sex offenders in British history, with some 300 alleged victims coming forward in recent weeks. It also starts the day after 1970s glam rocker Gary Glitter, a convicted paedophile, was questioned on suspicion of sexual offences, the first arrest in the widening police probe into the activities of Savile and others around him.

Janet Smith, a former Court of Appeal judge, is heading an independent review into the British Broadcasting Corporation's culture and practices during the decades that Savile worked for the national institution. Her inquiry will also examine whether the BBC's child protection and whistle-blowing policies are fit for purpose. The remit also includes "the extent to which BBC personnel were or ought to have been aware of unlawful and/or inappropriate conduct by Jimmy Savile on BBC premises or on location for the BBC". Smith led the inquiry into notorious serial killer Harold Shipman, which reported in 2005 and established that the family doctor who was convicted of 15 murders probably committed 250, if not more. She was to start gathering evidence from people who allege they were abused on BBC premises and from those who say they raised concerns about Savile. Savile died aged 84 at his parkside penthouse in his native Leeds, northern England.