The chairman of the BBC Trust said allegations of sexual abuse by Sir Jimmy Savile could not be excused as behaviour from a time when "attitudes were different", and gave his backing to inquiries by police and the Corporation.

Lord Patten told a business dinner in Cardiff on Monday night it was "no excuse to say 'that was then' in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and attitudes were different then".

He told the Cardiff Business Club: "It's no excuse to say, 'I'm sure the same thing used to happen with pop groups and others at the time'. Those things may be true but they don't provide an excuse."

On Monday, BBC director-general George Entwistle apologised to victims of Savile's alleged sex abuse and pledged the Corporation would hold its own inquiry following a police probe.

Lord Patten echoed Mr Entwistle's announcement and outlined how the BBC would act. He said: "Immediately these allegations came out, we went to the police, we agreed with Acpo (Association of Chief Police Officers) the way we should handle this and they told us the police inquiry should come first and we shouldn't undertake our own investigation until there had been a police inquiry or we might get in the way of it.

"So there will be a full police inquiry and we will encourage people to co-operate with it, and when that is completed, we will then look at the issues which still remain to be resolved in a way which will have to command credibility in the wider community.

"Because the BBC exists above all on trust and the relationship between the wider public and the BBC itself. And when the BBC is at its best, it's not only because it is providing terrific, creative, challenging TV and radio, it is because the public think they own it and can identify with it. Just think of the Olympics, the torch, the cultural Olympiad - all of those helped bring the community together."

Savile, the late radio and TV presenter, has been accused by a growing number of women of sexual abuse over a number of years.

Mr Entwistle, who started in his new role last month, spoke of deep regret about the ordeals of the women involved in the "awful allegations", and said there would be a "comprehensive examination" of what went on.

He spoke out a day after Prime Minister David Cameron called for the "truly shocking" allegations against Savile to be fully investigated.