BBC's director of news, her deputy step aside
BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have stepped aside amid the crisis over late television star Jimmy Savile and a report wrongly accusing a politician of child abuse, the BBC said today.world Updated: Nov 12, 2012 16:40 IST
BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have stepped aside amid the crisis over late television star Jimmy Savile and a report wrongly accusing a politician of child abuse, the BBC said on Monday.
They have relinquished their responsibilities pending the results of an inquiry by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard into why the flagship Newsnight programme axed a report last year into claims that Savile had sexually abused children.
The announcement follows the resignation on Saturday of BBC director-general George Entwistle over another Newsnight report last week that wrongly implicated a senior political figure in abuse at a Welsh children's home in the 1970s.
The BBC also warned in a statement that further heads may roll.
"Consideration is now being given to the extent to which individuals should be asked to account further for their actions and if appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken," it said.
Entwistle's final action as director-general was to order a review into last week's botched Newsnight programme into abuse at a children's home, headed by Director of BBC Scotland Ken MacQuarrie, and this has now reported back.
In response, the BBC said a decision had been taken to re-establish a "single management to deal with all output, Savile related or otherwise" to address what it described as "the lack of clarity around the editorial chain of command".
"Helen Boaden has decided that she is not in a position to undertake this responsibility until the Pollard review has concluded. During this period Fran Unsworth will act as director of news," the BBC said.
It said Ceri Thomas would act on a temporary basis as deputy director in place of Mitchell, while Karen O'Connor has agreed to take on the role of acting editor of Newsnight.
Acting director-general Tim Davie, who has taken over from Entwistle, is expected to set out his plans to manage the crisis later Monday.
Allegations that Savile may have abused up to 300 children over four decades, including while working at the BBC, have plunged the broadcaster into crisis.
The BBC's problems were compounded when Newsnight, one of its flaghsip current affairs programmes, was forced to admit on Friday that a report the previous week implicating a senior political figure in child sex abuse was wrong.
Entwistle resigned on Saturday after just 54 days as director-general, saying he took responsibility for the Newsnight report even though he had not seen it.