Rudderless and reeling, the BBC looks for a new sense of direction

Entwistle's terminal crisis highlights the broadcaster's wider organisational problems

The resignation of the head of the BBC is a story of institutional failure at the world's most famous broadcasting organisation as much as it is a personal tragedy for the Director-General.

The BBC now finds itself leaderless and adrift in a crisis that is threatening to become more damaging even than the fallout from the Hutton Inquiry in 2004.

The 54-day tenure of George Entwistle should have been characterised by gripping news stories such as the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and the re-election triumph of Barack Obama. Instead, the BBC itself became the news story, for all the wrong reasons.

In accepting Mr Entwistle's resignation, Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, said the Director-General he had so recently anointed had been betrayed by "unacceptable shoddy journalism". He was pointing the finger firmly at Angus Stickler of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and his erroneous report for Newsnight on 2 November suggesting that a former senior Conservative had been involved in child abuse.

But the simplicity of Lord Patten's explanation failed to acknowledge the context of the flawed report, his own culpability, that of Mr Entwistle, or the role of the BBC's editorial procedures.

When ITV highlighted the BBC's journalistic shortcomings in failing to broadcast its own evidence of allegations of child abuse against Jimmy Savile, Mr Entwistle's initial response was to ask the head of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie, to take a look at the background. As the uproar escalated, the BBC was obliged to stand Mr MacQuarrie down and set up two major inquiries headed by a judge, Dame Janet Smith, and the former head of Sky News Nick Pollard.

Newsnight is now in a state of limbo from which it may never return. Its editor, Peter Rippon, contributed to the sense of complacency over its failure to expose Savile with a blog post on 2 October which has since been exposed as being factually incorrect.

Mr Rippon has now been sidelined, leaving his deputy, Liz Gibbons, in charge. And in the wake of the setting-up of the two inquiries into Savile, the organisation's director of news, Helen Boaden, has recused herself from any involvement in the further reporting of that massive and evolving story – and even of other pieces of BBC journalism relating to child abuse.

So when Newsnight commissioned the Stickler story in a desperate attempt to win back its reputation after the Savile fiasco, Ms Boaden had no oversight role. Instead Ms Gibbons reported to the Radio 5 Live chief, Adrian Van Klaveren, who was standing in for Peter Horrocks, the head of Global News, who himself would have been standing in for Ms Boaden but was on a pre-booked holiday.

Despite the potential for the story to set the BBC on a war footing with the Tory party by accusing one of its grandees of child abuse, Mr Entwistle appears to have known nothing about it.

Although the story was legalled by BBC lawyers and was referred to Mr Van Klaveren, the Director-General himself – like Ms Boaden – was recused from the story and left outside the loop. He didn't even watch the controversial piece as it was broadcast.

Theoretically that left at the head of the editorial chain of command Tim Davie, who was acting Director-General on Savile-related matters, and who has now temporarily taken over as the head of the organisation. However, The Independent understands the story was not referred to him.

Meanwhile at ITV... Schofield under fire

Pressure is mounting on ITV to take action against This Morning and its presenter Phillip Schofield following his live-television ambush of David Cameron with a list of alleged "Tory paedophiles". The names were visible to the cameras and the million-plus audience, and Schofield has apologised for that – but not for the stunt itself.

He has been reported by the Tory MP Rob Wilson to the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom. But ITV's lack of action is being increasingly contrasted with the turmoil at the BBC.

The political commentator Andrew Neil asked: "What have they done about This Morning and Schofield?" A number of other journalists and political figures have asked whether the ITV presenter should still be in his job when Mr Entwistle had been forced to resign.

ITV did not comment.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Dev...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Trainee Recruitment C...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album