'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”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power