BBC News director Helen Boaden steps aside: expect more to go

Nov 12, 2012
Nigel Horne

Head of news and her deputy step aside as acting DG Tim Davie attempts to deal with firestorm at the BBC


THERE may have been questions about his lack of journalistic experience, but Tim Davie, appointed acting Director General of the BBC on Saturday after the departure of George Entwistle, is not hanging around.

Head of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Steve Mitchell have "stepped aside" this morning, pending the outcome of an internal inquiry.

Both were expected to be in the firing line even though neither played a role in the disastrous Newsnight decision to broadcast on 2 November groundless allegations of sex abuse against Lord McAlpine.

By then, both had "recused" themselves from the decision-making process after the previous fiasco concerning Newsnight's decision to drop its investigation into Jimmy Savile last December.

Boaden and Mitchell will not be the last to go – more departures are expected. There could also be an announcement about the future of Newsnight itself: many expect the "brand" to be abandoned.

Many observers within the industry have been pushing for Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, to go, too. The revelation last night that he agreed a severance package for Entwistle that included a full year's pay of £450,000 when only six months was required under the terms of his contract, has further angered his enemies. (The £800,000-plus pension pot Entwistle leaves with will also infuriate MPs and public alike.)

The impression this morning, however, despite turmoil in the BBC newsroom, is that Patten won't go - at least, not immediately. His job is in the gift of the Prime Minister and David Cameron is thought not to want to be seen to further destabilise the corporation.

David Dimbleby, who, as the Mole reports, very publicly applied for the vacancy of Director General on the Today programme this morning, joined those who say Patten must stay to sort out the mess.

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presumably incentivized by the inflated payoffs on offer; coupled with the ability to come back as a 'consultant'. all the 'big nobs' did it at the council when i worked there.