'Chaos and confusion': BBC forced to replace senior news executives following damning report into its 'complete inability' to deal with Jimmy Savile crisis

Pollard report exposes atmosphere of meltdown inside the BBC as Newsnight reporters who first persuaded Savile’s victims to talk on camera are vindicated after £2m inquiry

The BBC was forced to replace a tranche of senior news executives following a damning report into the “chaos and confusion” that surrounded the corporation’s “complete inability” to deal with the Jimmy Savile crisis.

Stephen Mitchell, deputy head of news, resigned yesterday following criticism of his role in an aborted Newsnight investigation into Savile’s child abuse, detailed in an excoriating report compiled by Nick Pollard, a former head of Sky News.

However, other BBC executives, including Helen Boaden, director of news, and Peter Rippon, the Newsnight editor, again rejected criticism of their role in the affair and will remain at the BBC, despite Mr Pollard’s finding that “leadership and organisation seemed to be in short supply”. Pollard’s report vindicated the Newsnight reporters Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones, who first persuaded Savile’s victims to talk on camera and fought hard to stop their investigation from being quashed.

“Their belief that Savile had a history of abusing young women was correct,” Mr Pollard ruled. “They provided Newsnight with cogent evidence of this. The programme could have broken the story almost a year before the ITV documentary revealed it.”

Welcoming that vindication of the original story, Liz Dux, solicitor for 40 women who have since come forward, said: “The victims don’t want to see months more of BBC navel gazing.”

Mr Pollard found no evidence to support the most serious allegation, that senior executives had placed pressure on Mr Rippon to drop the Newsnight report, which would have exposed Savile as a paedophile, because the BBC had a series of tribute programmes planned. But his inquiry, which cost £2m and trawled through 10,000 emails, found that the decision to abort the report was “flawed” and that Mr Rippon had made “a bad mistake in not examining the evidence” gleaned from Savile’s victims.

The BBC said that Mr Rippon and his deputy editor, Liz Gibbons, will be replaced by a new team that would “revitalise” the stricken programme. Mr Rippon, who will be found a new role at the BBC, contested Mr Pollard’s conclusion. He said: “I do not agree that my decision on this occasion was flawed.”

Mr Mitchell was criticised for the “fundamental” mistake of taking the Savile story off the BBC’s Managed Risk Programmes List, which flags up potentially risky projects to senior managers. Resigning after 38 years at the BBC, he also rejected the findings. “Whilst I feel vindicated that the review has found that I put no undue pressure on Peter Rippon, I disagree with the remainder of Mr Pollard’s criticisms in relation to me,” Mr Mitchell said.

Adrian van Klaveren, Radio 5 Live Controller, reluctantly accepted a move to a new job at BBC Television. He had only held a temporary role overseeing Newsnight following the initial chaos – and was involved in approving the catastrophic 2 November report that falsely implicated Lord McAlpine in allegations of abuse at a Welsh children’s home. Three BBC employees have been subject to disciplinary action as a result.

In a separate report, the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee condemned a “grave breach” of the BBC’s editorial standards, compounded by the use of a freelance reporter, Angus Stickler, who made a “terrible mistake” by not asking his witness to identify Lord McAlpine from a picture.

Mr Van Klaveren, forced to give up one of the BBC’s plum roles, said his 5 Live departure was “hard to take... I am leaving as a result of events which had nothing to do with how I carried out my job here. Rather it happened after I had just begun a temporary role in the most challenging of circumstances”.

Ms Boaden was criticised for the “casual” and “inappropriate” way she sought to tip off George Entwistle, who later became Director-General, at a lunch that a Savile investigation was under way when he was planning Christmas tribute programmes to the star. She should have taken “greater responsibility” when her news division was plunged into “virtual meltdown” once ITV revealed the Savile story, Mr Pollard found. But Ms Boaden’s lawyers challenged the claim that she failed to show leadership and she will return to her director-of-news post tomorrow.

Interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight yesterday, the BBC acting Director-General, Tim Davie said he would not have accepted Ms Boaden’s offer to resign. He added that he want people to “work at changing the culture of the BBC” rather than presiding over a raft of staff changes. He apologised that the Savile evidence was not passed on to police earlier.

The report revealed Mr Entwistle had failed to respond to emails sent by senior broadcasting executives warning him of Savile’s “darker side”. The first was sent two years before Entwistle became Director-General. The executive said he was “queasy” about preparing an obituary on the star, then ill, because he knew the “truth” about him.

The email showed that “there was knowledge, not just rumour... about the unsavoury side of Savile’s character” in the BBC before and after his death. Mr Entwistle, who quit last month following the McAlpine scandal, said he had not read a second email sent to him after the entertainer’s death. Mr Entwistle claimed he had been exonerated since the report attributed any “managerial shortcomings” to “unsatisfactory internal communications”.

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game