BBC made 'basic' journalistic mistakes

More scandal in the aftermath of 'Newsnight' report

GMT 09:36 2012 Tuesday ,13 November

Arab Today, arab today More scandal in the aftermath of 'Newsnight' report

A BBC logo is pictured on a television screen inside the BBC's New Broadcasting House office in central London
London - Agencies

A BBC logo is pictured on a television screen inside the BBC's New Broadcasting House office in central London An internal investigation in the BBC revealed “basic” journalistic failures in a news report on Newsnight which wrongly accused a senior politician of child abuse. The investigation results were announced on Monday after the BBC’s acting director-general Tim Davie promised to get to the root of the crisis as two more top news executives stood aside.
The report by the BBC's Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie found that journalists on the flagship Newsnight programme which broadcast the claims had failed to show the politician's accuser a photograph of McAlpine.
He also highlighted confusion about who had the ultimate responsibility for "final editorial sign-off" on the story, which the BBC had to retract after it was shown.
Newsnight's editorial management structure had been "seriously weakened" because the editor had stepped aside over the decision last year to shelve a story about star BBC presenter Jimmy Savile's abuse of under-age women.
Police now say they believe Savile abused more than 300 victims over a 40-year period. He died last year at the age of 84.
George Entwistle stepped down as director-general on Saturday after the Newsnight report and the BBC's response to the Savile scandal.
On Monday, head of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Stephen Mitchell were asked to stand aside pending an internal review into the way that the claims against Savile were handled by Newsnight.
Davie, a former PepsiCo executive temporarily handed control of the BBC after just seven years at the organisation, said his job was to restore leadership following Entwistle's sudden resignation.
He hailed Entwistle's departure as the act of "an honourable man".
"My job now is to get a grip of the situation and take action," Davie told BBC News.
Davie, who has little journalistic experience, said in an email to staff that he was "determined to give the BBC the clarity and leadership it deserves" until a permanent replacement is found.
Journalists in the corporation's 6,000-strong news operation complain that excessive layers of management have led to confused decision-making.
The BBC also found itself embroiled in a row over the revelation that Entwistle would receive a £450,000 payoff -- the equivalent of a year's salary.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the sum was "hard to justify".
The corporation has warned that more heads are likely to roll over the Newsnight furore.

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