The not-for-profit journalism group dragged into the row over the Newsnight report that led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly exposed as a paedophile has said it had had no control over the story but admitted failings over a decision to second one of its reporters to the BBC.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) said its own investigation into the events that led to the disastrous broadcast, which ultimately cost BBC Director General George Entwistle his job, had found the organisation itself provided no material for the report into allegations of sexual abuse.
Instead, the BIJ said it had made a “serious mistake” when its senior reporter, Angus Stickler, was allowed to join Newsnight on secondment and a fee of £3,250 agreed for his assistance with a programme investigating the alleged abuse at Welsh children’s homes in the 1970s and 1980s.
In a lengthy statement released today, the trustees of the BIJ said it was wrong to allow Mr Stickler, a former BBC reporter who had spent many years covering the abuse claims culminating in the Waterhouse Inquiry, to join Newsnight when the Bureau retained no editorial control.
The statement, which noted that Mr Stickler had provided his own material to Newsnight, said: “The Bureau had no responsibility for the making or the transmission of the programme. That said, the decision to allow Mr Stickler’s secondment on these terms was a serious mistake. The trustees will put protocols in place to ensure that it does not happen again.”
The BIJ added it was satisfied that no-one on its staff apart from Mr Stickler and its editor, Iain Overton, who has since resigned, were involved with the discredited report.