'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
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?