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Newsnight fiasco: How events unfolded


25 November 2011 Newsnight editor Peter Rippon gives the all-clear for investigation into claims that Jimmy Savile abused children.

30 November Rippon changes his attitude towards the report, saying reporters needed to establish why the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case against Savile.

2 December Helen Boaden, BBC director of news, tells George Entwistle, then BBC director of vision, they may have to change the Christmas schedule, which included tributes to Savile, in light of the Newsnight report.

9 December Newsnight drops Savile investigation after being told by the CPS that it did not press charges due to lack of evidence.

17 September 2012 Entwistle’s first day as director general of the BBC.

2 October Rippon writes in a blog that Newsnight’s investigation was dropped for editorial reasons, saying it was totally “untrue” that the decision was part of a BBC cover-up. 

3 October ITV screens documentary claiming Jimmy Savile abused underage boys and girls. Several days later, he is branded a “predatory sex offender” by police.

11 October Entwistle admits he was aware of Newsnight investigation, but says he knew none of the details.

22 October Peter Rippon, steps aside as Newsnight editor for the duration of an internal review.

23 October George Entwistle appears before MPs at the culture select committee. He admits the Newsnight investigation should not have been dropped.

1 November Freddie Starr is arrested as part of police inquiry into sexual abuse claims. It is announced the Pollard review into Newsnight’s dropping of its investigation will report later this month.

2 November Editor of Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, sparks media speculation with tweet: “We’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.” Newsnight broadcasts the report but does not name the figure.

5 November David Cameron announces that an independent figure will investigate the “dreadful” allegations and look into the effectiveness of the Waterhouse inquiry.

9 November Lord McAlpine, a former party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher, releases a statement saying it is not him. One of the abuse victims, Steve Messham, apologies to Lord McAlpine, saying he was not the man who abused him. Newsnight issues apology.

10 November George Entwistle is grilled by his own presenter John Humphrys on the Today programme. Later that day, Entwistle  quits as the BBC’s DG.