TWO SENIOR EXECUTIVES at the BBC are “stepping aside” as the crisis engulfing the broadcaster continues in the aftermath of it falsely accusing a Tory peer of being a paedophile.
Director of News Helen Boaden and her deputy Steve Mitchell have “stepped aside” according to BBC News and several other news outlets although the news has yet to be officially confirmed.
It comes after the resignation of Director General George Entwistle, who resigned on Saturday night after just 54 days in the job.
His departure, with a €450,000 pay-off, followed a Newsnight broadcast which wrongly said that former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine was involved in the child abuse scandal at Welsh care homes in 1970s and 1980s.
Two inquiries are also under way into an earlier Newsnight decision not to broadcast a report on allegations of abuse carried out by former BBC star Jimmy Savile who is now the subject of hundreds of abuse allegations.
A major police investigation is currently under way into claims that the now deceased Savile abused up to 300 children over a 40-year period including on BBC premises.
Boaden was head of news and Entwistle head of BBC Vision – which is responsible for television output – at the time of the Savile decision.
BBC also reports that Fran Unsworth, head of Newsgathering, and Ceri Thomas, editor of the BBC Radio 4′s Today programme have been asked to fill the respective roles of Boaden and Mitchell.
Acting director general Tim Davie has begun his first day in the job with among his first tasks being to assess the results of an initial review into the Newsnight programme which made false claims about Lord McAlpine.
Separately pressure is also mounting on Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC’s governing board, amid the ongoing crisis at the state-funded broadcaster.
Patten said there must now be a “thorough, structural, radical overhaul” of the way the BBC was run, although he said he would not be resigning over the row in an interview yesterday.
Newsnight’s famed anchor Jeremy Paxman said on Saturday that Entwistle had been “brought low by cowards and incompetents”.
“I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out. It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed,” he said in a statement.
- with reporting from AFP