BBC crisis: Two more heads roll over botched Newsnight report
12 Nov 2012 10:19
The corporation's director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have stepped aside
The BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have stepped aside as a result of a botched Newsnight report which contributed to the resignation of director-general George Entwistle.
Their moves came as a report into the Newsnight programme which mistakenly implicated Lord McAlpine in a sex abuse scandal was produced.
The BBC's head of newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, and Ceri Thomas, the editor of the Radio 4 Today programme, are to fill in for Ms Boaden and Mr Mitchell temporarily.
The changes - which also include a change in the "chain of command" dealing with all BBC output - were announced in response to the report into Newsnight by Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland.
It comes in the wake of the resignation of Mr Entwistle on Saturday, which has left the embattled corporation in crisis, amid calls for BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten to follow suit.
The response to the report has been one of the first issues to be tackled by acting director-general
Tim Davie as he prepares to rebuild trust in the corporation.
Announcing its response to the report, the BBC said: "To address the lack of clarity around the editorial chain of command, a decision has been taken to re-establish a single management to deal with all output, Savile-related or otherwise."
It went on: "Consideration is now being given to the extent to which individuals should be asked to account further for their actions and if appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken."
An inquiry is already under way into the decision-making process behind a dropped Newsnight report last year which would have examined sexual abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile. It is being led by former Sky News boss Nick Pollard.
The BBC said Ms Boaden "has decided that she is not in a position to undertake" her responsibility as director of news "until the Pollard review has concluded".
The corporation later said in a statement: "The BBC wants to make it absolutely clear that neither Helen Boaden nor Stephen Mitchell had anything at all to do with the failed Newsnight investigation into Lord McAlpine.
"Whilst recognising this, the BBC also believes there is a lack of clarity in the lines of command and control in BBC News as a result of some of those caught up in the Pollard Review being unable to exercise their normal authority.
"In the circumstances Helen and Stephen will be stepping aside from their normal roles until the Pollard Review reports and they expect to then return to their positions.
"There will be a public statement later today dealing with the finding of Ken MacQuarrie's investigation."
Karen O'Connor - a former deputy editor of Panorama and Newsnight - has also been drafted in as acting editor of Newsnight.