Entwistle prepares for starring role in his own BBC drama as he faces MPs over Savile affair

It took him 20 years to land the job of  Director-General. Today's performance in front of MPs will decide whether he keeps it

The BBC Director-General, George Entwistle, will be fighting for his career today as MPs demand to know how much he knew about the suppression of a Newsnight investigation into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile and why he sanctioned tribute programmes to the late BBC presenter.

Just 37 days into his tenure, Mr Entwistle finds his position further damaged by the intervention of the Prime Minister, who expressed concern over the BBC "effectively changing its story", after it yesterday suddenly denounced a blog by the Newsnight editor, Peter Rippon, which had been the Corporation's official version of events for the past three weeks.

The BBC said Mr Rippon was "stepping aside" from his role "with immediate effect" as it admitted "errors" in the BBC website blog, hours before a damning Panorama documentary last night that exposed the way the BBC has handled the Savile scandal. Panorama conducted interviews with two Newsnight journalists who contradicted claims by Mr Entwistle and other senior BBC figures that their story had been intended only as a narrow piece on Surrey Police's treatment of Savile – rather than an exposé of claims of sexual abuse against the former star.

Reporters Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean said that they had been conducting a wide investigation into child-sex abuse by Savile. Ms MacKean said the story was quashed following "an abrupt change of tone" and Mr Jones claimed that "we weren't asked to get more evidence… we were told to stop working on the story". Their claims will fuel suspicion that Mr Rippon was put under pressure by more senior colleagues to kill the story.

Mr Entwistle today gives evidence before the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. Its chairman, John Whittingdale, was damning yesterday, saying: "The handling of this by the BBC has been lamentable, they have made a bad situation even worse and ultimately the Director-General is responsible for that and certainly we would want to press him on that whole issue."

MPs will question Mr Entwistle over why he sanctioned a tribute programme on Savile after the director of BBC News had informed him weeks before that Newsnight was investigating the late presenter. "It seems to me extraordinary that, given George Entwistle was told, that he did not want to know a lot more about it," Mr Whittingdale said yesterday.

The Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday that it had looked into four claims of sexual assault made against Savile following a two-year investigation by Surrey Police in 2009 while he was still alive. Savile was questioned under caution but no charges were made against him as the witnesses were not prepared to testify in court.

It also emerged in Panorama that the BBC did not pass on evidence gathered by the Newsnight investigation to the police. It is only the recent revelations that have seen one of their sources, Karin Ward, interviewed by the Metropolitan Police.

Ben Bradshaw, the former Labour Culture Secretary and a former BBC journalist who also sits on the committee, said the Savile affair had been devastating for morale at the BBC. "I feel very angry and upset It's yet another self-inflicted and completely avoidable crisis which BBC people are tearing their hair out about. The staff feel desperately let down," he said. "We will clearly want categorical assurance from [Mr Entwistle] that no pressure was put on Peter Rippon."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn