AS THE CONTROVERSY over the broadcast of an “unacceptable” Newsnight programme continues, BBC’s director general has fallen on his own sword.
George Entwistle announced his resignation “in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards” which allowed for the broadcast that led to Tory Lord McAlpine being wrongly implicated in the north Wales care homes abuse case.
The 49-year-old had only been appointed to the top job in July but explained he was “ultimately responsible for all content”, admitting that the Newsnight report should never have been aired.
In a statement, Entwistle, who has been at the BBC since 1989, said:
In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor-in-chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general
He said he believes the BBC should appoint a new leader.
Although he is now the shortest serving DG in the history of the BBC, Entwistle has had to deal with a number of scandals, including the controversy over the shelving of an investigation into the late presenter Jimmy Savile.
In a tweet, Stephen Fry summarised: “Inevitable George Entwistle would fall on his sword. Damned for stopping a Newsnight, damned for allowing one. A kind, wise man. Heigh ho.”
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said that last night was “undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings” of his public life. He described the Newsnight programme as “shoddy journalism”.
The broadcaster issued an unreserved apology to Lord McAlpine yesterday for the report which led him to be wrongly implicated in the alleged sexual abuse of children at a north Wales care home. An “immediate pause” in all investigations has been implemented.