UK & World News
BBC Boss 'Was Unaware' Of Child Abuse Slur
The BBC's director-general has said he has given no thought to axing Newsnight over a report that wrongly implicated a former senior Tory in a child abuse scandal.
Grilled by BBC presenter John Humphrys, George Entwistle admitted he did not know about the Newsnight investigation until the day after it was broadcast and had not seen newspaper reports casting doubts on the probe.
The BBC boss said he had also been unaware of a tweet 12 hours before the programme aired, from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism - which worked on the report - suggesting it was going to identify a senior political figure.
"I didn't see that tweet. This tweet was not brought to my attention so I found out about this film after it had gone out," he told the BBC's Today programme.
"In the light of what has happened here I wish this was referred to me, but it wasn't. I found out about the film the following day."
James Lee, the chairman of the Trustees of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has released a statement saying: "The Trustees are appalled at what appears to be a breach of its standards."
"To the extent that the principles of The Bureau have been ignored by an involvement in this story, remedial action will be taken against those responsible. The Trustees must ensure that due process is applied and are establishing the key facts."
Mr Entwistle said the 32-year-old Newsnight programme had "a fantastic investigative record" and it would be "disproportionate at this stage to talk about closing Newsnight down".
However, he said the report on child abuse allegations was "unacceptable" and "should never have gone out", warning that staff involved in the programme could now face disciplinary action.
"We should not have put out a film that was so fundamentally wrong. What happened here was completely unacceptable," he said.
"I have taken clear and decisive action to start to find out what happened and put things right."
Mr Entwistle, who had moved quickly to try to limit the damage by appointing BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie to produce a report into why basic errors were made, said he expected it to be on his desk by Sunday.
Pressed about his own position, he insisted he had no intention of resigning - although he accepted his future lay in the hands of the BBC Trust, which described the report as a "deeply troubling episode".
The Trust also offered its own apology in a statement, adding it had "impressed upon the director-general the need to get to the bottom of this as a matter of the utmost urgency and will expect appropriate action to be taken as quickly as possible".
Responding to the BBC investigation into the Newsnight report, Harriet Harman, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said: "Even before we learn the results of the urgent report by BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie, commissioned by the director-general, it is absolutely clear that something has gone badly wrong at Newsnight."
"The director-general only took over the leadership of the BBC eight weeks ago, but he needs to show decisively that he is addressing the systemic problems which are in evidence here."
Kevin Marsh, a former editor of the Today programme and BBC College of Journalism, said it was "extraordinary" Mr Entwistle was unaware of the report following the storm over the dropping of Newsnight's investigation into Jimmy Savile.
"It was quite grim for him before his interview, but I think it's even grimmer after," said Mr Marsh.
"I think many people will find it extraordinary that he hadn't put out an alert to his senior managers saying, 'Look, if Newsnight and child abuse come together again, I need to know,' and 'I want to know all the details'."
MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, described the debacle as "the most appalling failure of management at every level of the BBC".
Despite a number of requests, the BBC told Sky News it would not be making Mr Entwistle, or any other executive, available for interview on Saturday.
Newsnight made an unreserved apology on air on Friday night for the broadcast on November 2 after Steve Messham admitted the man who abused him as a teenager at a care home in North Wales was not former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine.
The 70-year-old peer found himself at the centre of a storm of internet speculation after Mr Messham told the BBC2 programme he had been abused by a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era.
There will also be a "pause" in all ongoing Newsnight investigations, while the BBC is suspending all co-productions with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Nevertheless, the disclosures come as another blow for the corporation, which is still reeling from the Savile scandal - including a decision to drop a Newsnight investigation exposing the late DJ as a child abuser.
Tory MP Rob Wilson said Mr MacQuarrie needed to examine whether the programme on the Bryn Estyn children's home scandal had been an "over-compensation" for what happened over Savile or a "diversionary tactic" to draw attention away from the BBC.
The programme had included an interview with Mr Messham, who described how he used to be taken from the children's home to a hotel near Wrexham to be abused by men, including one described as a former senior Conservative.
On Friday, Lord McAlpine broke cover to issue a vehement public denial of the "wholly false and seriously defamatory" claims against him. His solicitors have indicated they are preparing to sue for defamation.
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.
what do you think?
I dont know this is unfortionate for newsnight first they are critizised for not airing abuse victims statements re the savile claims, then when they do broadcast abuse claims re the wrexham case the victim turns out to be grossly mistaken.the bbc seems to be in a no win situation.
It doesn't help that they keep shooting themselves in the foot.
Seems very odd to me all of this.
Brian E Gorton
Something smells..In fact it st--ks!!!Some nasty people at work.Talk about muddy waters.Maybe some genuine abused people will not now come foreward,because of this.I dont think the BBC has anything to do with this accusation.Maybe the establishment knows something.Maybe one is covering ones back!!! Why did camaloon try to involve the g-y people they are not involved.WHY?
Windows Live User
Ok then, Muddy Waters was an American Blues singer who died in 1983. His real name was McKinley Morganfield. B. Mississippi 1913. He is accepted as one of the best bluesmen and the Father of Chicago Blues. His most famous song is called Hoochie Coochie Man. His later career was resurrected by Johnny Winter and the collaboration produced the album Hard Again. His funeral was attended by scores of fans and other blues artists, and it will be a long time before we see the likes of him again. One of his songs led to Jagger/ Richards/ Jones choosing the name Rolling Stones for their band.
Brian, three uses of the word "maybe" in your comment make it virtually pointless.
Is there still going to be a police investigation into children being abused off the care home premises, or is the case to be quietly dropped because of one false accusation?
Almost as if the false accusation was orchestrated- food for thought.
BBC should be de-nationalised, no more TV licences to be paid the public. Let them fight for survival like the other media do.
Totally agree. Would stop them filling the airwaves with the leftist trash that so often passes for news.
the bbc should be protected as they don't have to do want sponsors tell them, they may not be perfect,but they are one of a kind in the world, unlike private broadcaster's who would not report news for fear of sponsorship being withdrawn, or to put it another way Mr Murdoch would tell you all you needed to know.
I agree 100% Grant. people should have a choice. I don't want BBC services, I shouldn't have to pay. If people like IRONSTINE do want it then they can pay for it. I am happy to live my life without it.
Its basically a tax, it should be a choice of if you want it or not. State meddling in private lives agaain.
Is this person named, the very same "Top Tory" that was implicated by Tom Watson in the House of Commons recently? If it is, then lucky for Tom Watson that he used Parliamentary Privelege and he cannot be questioned further.
lol... well i must say that IF appearances could convict then persons such as were shown would all be in prison by now ............. and , looking at those people already convicted they all share the same appearance ............ weasely eyes fat jowelled and APPARENTLY PILLARS OF SOCIETY !!
Ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone speaking on LBC today, claimed that MI5 secretly filmed politicians abusing children in a care home for the purpose of "applying pressure" on them. Who polices MI5?
err the c.i.a ?
I would be very careful about believing Mr Livingstone's claims on this matter. What evidence did he produce to back up his claims??. This is exactly the the sort of wild accusation which has resulted in the current shambles. Only the other day, I read a claim on the Internet that Savile's job as a DJ/Presenter provided him with the perfect cover for his real job - a secret agent !!!. What utter nonsense, some people will believe anything !!.
Ken is a very, very bitter man these days. He is out of the limelight never to return. I would put as much credence in what he says as I would Messham.
Or was the apparent abuse victim a shill to discredit the whole scandal. Who is this guy? Do we know anything about him?
I didn't trust him from the outset. I am not saying that he wasn't abused at some time its just that it never rang true for me. I think hes very confused about a horrible time in his life that happened a long time ago. I feel sorry for him, hes had some very bad advice from someone.
This guy was miss guided by the police, he picked out the person who abused him from police photographs. They then gave him the name of that person, it was only when he saw a later picture of the peer he realized they had given him the wrong name because they did not link up. Seems the police seem to be helping others and not the victims in all of this.
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
Fgs - Newsnight did NOT name anyone, they did absolutely nothing wrong and now we hear their investigative journalism is to be suspended. Something really weird going on there. Newsnight have to apologise for someone else`s tweets yet its ok for someone called Steve Hewlett to go on Newsnight and say Steve Messham is a fantasist !! Can`t everyone see what`s going on here?
1. they intimated that a senior tory peer was involved in child abuse......no corrobarating facts to back this up 2. they failed to identify the person that the victim was accusing. (they didn't show him a picture) 3. they failed to give the right to reply, a key BBC remit. McAlpines name appeared on the net site after the newsnight broadcast. They started this ball of dung rolling, and you say they done nothing wrong !
The only weird thing going on here is that you have a score of +8 !
An establishment shutdown of an embarrassing insight into the behaviour of certain people in our society perhaps?
An invasion by lizard people from a far off planet with the intention of discredeting the establishment before the final battle for dominance of the solar system.....perhaps ?
I'll have what t.'s been having!
If Lord Mc Alpine's name is alleged to have been on the internet with this type of scandal, why has he waited till now to start a libel action? can't we allow the police to sort out this matter unhindered and without political pressure, our society must try to get justice for failing these children,and the disgusting perpetrator's should be made to face up to what they have done.
Being named , along with a load of others, on some ridiculous net site and being "outed" on national TV are two entirely different things. Not even in the same league. News night, is OUR national broadcasters flagship investigative journalism program. The internet is a collection of tragically inaccurate rubbish, with the odd fact thrown in here and there.
So now they have an excuse the wrong man has been accused a top Tory the police just happend to show a picture to a victim and gave him the wrong name' who fault is it lets blame news night they are asking to many questions we will discredit them' Then we will discredit the victim' Lets all feel sorry for Mc Alpine he can sue every one and scare off any one who asks to many questions see we new this would happen they said' So lets sweep this under the carpet and her no more about it. People in high places are at work here to protect them selves from scandle there are some guilty people who will do anything they can to not be outed.......
Check under your bed tonight katie, you just don't know what may be lurking under there.
Firstly, if Newsnight did not name the Senior Politician" then they did no wrong, secondly, why did the Police wrongly name Lord MacAlpine to the abuse victim when they showed him the picture, that stinks a bit! and thirdly, most of us dont have hours to spend trawling the Internet looking for names etc, I would never have even known this MacAlpine bloke was in the frame if he had not said something! I really think the Police's role in this should be investigated, Mr Messham looked at a picture and was told who it was, both he and Newsnight took that on good faith.
Why are the BBC making grovelling apologies every time I turn on my TV then ? I am getting fed up with them. "we would like to offer our most sincer apologies......." For goodness sake shut up with the apologies and start doing some worthy research before you start making accusations, BBC idiots.
Jacqui, they did do wrong. 1. they intimated that a senior tory peer was involved in child abuse......no corrobarating facts to back this up 2. they failed to identify the person that the victim was accusing. (they didn't show him a picture) 2. they failed to give the right to reply, a key BBC remit.
They also gave the media a tasty titbit by revealing a "top former Tory" would be named. This had many foaming at the jowls and so excited that by the time he was named, little thought was given to the fact he may be innocent - they were too far gone.
Looks to me the BBC and Newsnight have been set up , the witness was deemed unreliable in an earlier enquiry .This will mar a proper investigation into the real Paedophiles that do exist in high places .It all stinks of corruption.
Lots of folk on here saying things like "something stinks" or " high up people at work here". can I suggest that you all get together and start your own conspiracy site, at least then philip schofield and his like will have somewhere to go to get the "facts".
Windows Live User
Boy, I wish I could box this Conspiracy Theory game and sell it at Xmas. I would make a lot of money.
Oh God - do we now have to check tweets to see what's going on in the world?!
The BBC did not name anyone, the name mentioned was on the internet for anyone to see. The BBC has no control over the internet. Did the police mislead the person alledged to have been abused? Are there more sinister forces at work here?