BBC internal enquiry reveals lack of clarity and authority in command and control

Editor | 13-11-2012

As it reels from the resignation of its Director General, an internal BBC enquiry has revealed an editorial management structure in a state of disarray.

Reporting his findings into the Newsnight broadcast on 2 November 2012 - which led to a former member of the Thatcher government being wrongly implicated as a child abuser and the subsequent resignation of George Entwistle - Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, who was asked to investigate the circumstances and editorial failings around the programme, revealed that the BBC 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 of the Jimmy Saville scandal being unable to exercise their normal authority.

The investigation found that with regard to the Newsnight programme of 2 November, there was “ambiguity” as to who was taking the ultimate editorial responsibility for the report, particularly in the days leading up to the day of transmission, and that during the editorial decision-making process “some of the basic journalistic checks were not completed.”

As a result of this, the BBC has embarked upon a widespread overhaul of its management structure with a single management to deal with all output and acting heads in key news management roles such as director of news and deputy director as well as editor of the Newsnight programme itself.

MacQuarrie warned that consideration was being given as to “the extent to which individuals should be asked to account further for their actions and, if appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken.”