UK & World News
BBC Savile Report: News Boss To Retire
The Deputy Director of BBC News has quit after the publication of a damning report into the axing of a Newsnight programme on Jimmy Savile.
At a news conference to address the highly critical findings, the BBC announced the departure of Stephen Mitchell, who had been with the corporation for 38 years.
Mr Mitchell was one of several high-profile figures at the organisation to be criticised in an independent report, led by Nick Pollard, former head of Sky News.
In a statement Mr Mitchell said that he had quit following the "strain over the past month" but rejected criticisms levelled at him by the review, which cost £2m.
The report said that the decision by Newsnight's former editor, Peter Rippon, to shelve the programme into Savile's "dark side" was "seriously flawed", but taken in "good faith".
Mr Rippon immediately rejected the criticism and said he had never "shirked from my responsibilities".
However, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said the BBC accepted the review in its "entirety".
The BBC also announced that it had put in place a new editorial team at Newsnight, as well as accepting Mr Mitchell's departure.
The report paints a picture of a top-down organisation with rivalries and factional fighting.
It said the BBC's management system "proved completely incapable of dealing" with the issues raised by the axing of the story.
It added that "the level of chaos and confusion was even greater than was apparent at the time".
The report found: "The decision to drop the original investigation was flawed and the way it was taken was wrong but I believe it was done in good faith.
"It was not done to protect the Savile tribute programmes or for any improper reason."
The report came at the same time as a review, by the BBC Trust, into a Newsnight report leading to the wrongful identification of Lord McAlpine as a paedophile.
That report concluded that the error had resulted largely from a failure by members of the team to follow the BBC's own editorial guidelines.
Among the senior figures criticised in the Pollard report are former Director General George Entwistle and director of news Helen Boaden.
The review blamed in part an "apparent adherence to rigid management chains" for the failure to deal with the issue.
It said Ms Boaden's attempt to alert Mr Entwistle to potential problems posed by the story during an industry lunch was "too casual".
She is also criticised for not taking "greater responsibility" as the crisis grew.
Mr Entwistle, who resigned after 54 days in the top job, was criticised for appearing to "have taken a long time to take any real control" of the problems at the BBC.
However, Mr Entwistle responded with a statement saying he felt he had been completely vindicated.
"I am pleased that the Pollard Report makes it clear I played no part whatever in Newsnight's decision not to broadcast the original Savile investigation - just as I was not personally to blame in any way for the journalistic failures on Newsnight when it broadcast its erroneous report about the North Wales care home," he said.
The review concluded that the BBC does not have to be taken down "brick by brick" but said the Director General's role as editor-in-chief needs to be examined.
It also said it "raises a question about the insularity of some people within the BBC" who are described as being unaware of wider industry practices.
Also criticised was Mr Mitchell, who decided to remove the Savile investigation from the corporation's Managed Risk Programmes List (MRPL).
The MRPL is an internal mechanism to flag up stories that contain some element of potential danger including risk to the BBC's reputation.
Mr Pollard described that decision as "critical", adding: "It was important to establish why he had done this. Very unfortunately, he could offer no convincing reason".
Mr Pollard said that if it had stayed on the MRPL some of what followed "might well have been avoided".
The report also paints an unflattering picture of relations between staff on Newsnight and in the wider BBC.
It said the decision to cancel the story led to disagreements between show boss Peter Rippon and his journalists and "relationships... began to break down".
It found there was no "undue pressure" on Mr Rippon from his bosses to drop the story, but said his decision to do so "was seriously flawed".
It went on: "He made a bad mistake in not examining the evidence properly".
It also describes the background to his blog post on the issue, which was later corrected after being found to be factually incorrect, as "chaotic".
The evidence given to the review also reveals Mr Entwistle refused to speak to Newsnight reporter Meirion Jones off-the-record because he "didn't trust him to have an off-the-record conversation".
It also includes evidence from Ms Boaden that Mr Entwistle told her he would not accept her resignation but was going to make a public statement that would make "it impossible for Peter [Rippon] not to resign".
The report includes sections of an email sent to Mr Entwistle two years before becoming Director-General.
The email tells him an obituary for Savile had not been done because of "the darker side" to his life though Mr Entwistle told the inquiry he had not read it.
The review said the email, and others like it, indicates "there was knowledge, not just rumour ... about the unsavoury side of Savile's character" in BBC TV shortly after his death.
Speaking outside Broadcasting House in central London, Mr Jones criticised the BBC for pulling the story.
He said: "I hope the BBC takes measures to make sure nothing like that will ever happen again. What I do feel confident about though is the BBC has now taken measures to make sure that children are safe here."
Meanwhile the BBC Trust review into the McAlpine error described the incident as a "grave breach which had been costly to all concerned".
The Trust said it resulted in the public being misled.
Yesterday Lord McAlpine agreed £310,000 in damages from the BBC and ITV over the wrongful allegations.
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what do you think?
De nationalise the BBc & cut them loose into private markets where we dont have to pay a yearly licence/tax
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Is Patten still in place? Seems all below are falling like cards
OOOh, Gwant, totally biased and predictable. You're just like me!
What - so we can become even more like the US? Lots and lots of trashy channels intended for the intellectually unedeveloped? I'd rather pay the licence fee!
What a gravy train.
Grant, I totally agree - by competing with other independent broadcasting stations and by not being dependent on tax payers money/licence fees they would be forced to become a more efficient organisation. For a long time the BBC has been a mess and in my opinion a very immoral organisation simply because they are answerable to nobody.
Keep the BBC in the public sector but let it be run by the people who actually work for a living in there, the ones who don't have telephone number wages and a seat waiting for them in the House of Lords.
I think you're being too hard on the Beeb, it must be tough running a gravy train, sorry I mean responsible, ethical, public service orientated organisation on ONLY 4 billion per year - i mean 4 billion is just nothing for these days for the Beeb boys and girls to pusue their own personal agendas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No doubt Mr Mitchell will get a decent wedge for doing the honourable thing, after all there's plenty in the pot.
Glad people have lost their jobs but I would not like to see adverts on the BBC
I agree with you, Diane.
Too much government interference we pay for it,it belongs to the people .Let normal people run the BBC elected if need be .Too many old farts (Bruce Forthsyt) for one get rid too many cobwebs.
I don't see the point of having national broadcasters any more. Now TV is digital, anybody can set up a TV station and broadcast from their back bedroom.
Typical of any sector that is publically owned
The BBC news earlier purported that BBC news is still the most trusted in the country ! If true (and the way they skew figures, I doubt it) It really says very little for the rest.
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