Challenging week after BBC resignations

November 12, 2012 09.51 Europe/London By Julian Clover


BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten and interim director-general Tim Davie will this week try to dampen the crisis that led to the weekend resignation of George Entwistle.

Davie had only recently left his post as head of radio to become the new chief executive of BBC Worldwide.

Entwistle announced his resignation as director-general on Saturday evening. It came in the wake of the scandal that has engulfed the flagship Newsnight programme that had erroneously intimated that senior conservative peer Lord McAlpine had been involved in child abuse.

Last December Newsnight had dropped a report into widespread child abuse by the TV and radio presenter Jimmy Savile. It was picked up by ITV and has led to a major police investigation with Savile, who died in 2011, thought to be involved in more than 300 cases of abuse.

The BBC’s director of news Helen Boaden and deputy Stephen Mitchell have now “stepped aside” with the BBC facing a major leadership crisis.

Such is the tide of anti-BBC sentiment in some sections of parliament and the newspaper sector that the £450,000 pay-off to the former director-general – Entwistle was in post for just 54 days – is already being questioned. The corporation said he was being paid the sum, equivalent to one year’s salary, because he was continuing to help with BBC affairs.

The position of Lord Patten has also been brought into question.

BBC Scotland head Ken MacQuarrie delivered an emergency review of the McAlpine report on Sunday evening. Former Sky News chief Nick Pollard is carrying out a separate review into the dropping of the Savile investigation. It will report later this week.