News chiefs step aside amid scandal


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - Page 7

The BBC announced that two of its executives were standing aside yesterday and warned more heads may roll as it battles with a major crisis over its reporting of sex abuse that toppled the director-general.

The 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 yesterday.

They have relinquished their responsibilities pending the results of an inquiry by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard into why the flagship Newsnight program axed a report last year into claims that Savile had sexually abused children.

The BBC insisted that they had not been sacked and were expected to return to their jobs after the inquiry by Pollard is published.

It also stressed that Boaden and Mitchell had not been involved in this month’s botched Newsnight program, which wrongly implicated former Conservative party treasurer Alistair McAlpine in sex abuse at a Welsh children’s home.

The BBC also warned 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 in a statement.

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.”