Report says BBC was 'incapable' of dealing with Savile crisis

Dec 19, 2012

Executives resign and stand down as report into Newsnight's shelved investigation is released


THE BBC was "completely incapable" of dealing with the repercussions of its decision to drop a Newsnight investigation into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, a report says.

Describing a BBC culture hallmarked by chaos, confusion and a lack of leadership, the report released today by Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News, paints a grim picture of the broadcaster as it lurched towards one of the worst management crises in its history.

But Pollard does not believe the shelving of the Savile investigation, the event that sowed the seeds of the crisis, was done to avoid a clash with BBC programmes paying tribute to the Jim'll Fix It entertainer last Christmas.

Pollard's report apportions blame to a group of BBC executives, some of whom will be replaced as a result of his findings.

Steven Mitchell, deputy head of news: Pollard is "highly critical" of Mitchell, the man whose decision to take the Savile investigation off an official BBC list of "risky" projects hid it from senior managers. The decision was "fundamental" to the scandal that followed, says the Daily Telegraph. Mitchell resigned from the BBC this morning and will not receive a pay-off.

Peter Rippon, Newsnight editor: Rippon's decision to drop the Savile investigation was "seriously flawed" and he made a "bad mistake" by not examining the evidence properly, says Pollard. He should have read the "central interview" on which the investigation was based and the notes of other interviewers. A blog Rippon published on 2 October containing false claims about why the BBC dropped its Savile probe was written in "chaotic" circumstances, says the report. Rippon will be replaced as editor of Newsnight and moved to another job within the BBC.

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News: Pollard says she didn't pressure Rippon to drop the Savile investigation, but she could have "shown more leadership" over the issue. Pollard criticises her "casual" approach to raising the issue of the Savile investigation with the BBC's director general George Entwistle at a TV industry lunch in December, 2011. The setting was too "casual, too fleeting" he says. Boaden, who had stood aside from her position pending the results of the Pollard report, will return to the position of news director.

George Entwistle, director general: Pollard is critical of Entwistle's leadership in general and notes that he was sent an email two years ago warning him about Savile's "darker side" but failed to read it. Entwistle resigned in November following a disastrous Newsnight programme broadcast on 2 November implicating a senior Tory in child abuse.

Adrian van Klaveran, head of Radio 5 Live: Van Klaveran was acting head of news when the Newsnight programme implicating a former Tory party fundraiser in child abuse went to air. He stepped down from his role today and will be moved to a new, senior role within the broadcaster.

Sources: The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the BBC

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