Did George Entwistle have to resign as BBC Director General after the Savile and Newsnight scandals?


Click to follow
The Independent Online

What's going on?

George Entwistle last night resigned as Director General of the BBC after an episode of Newsnight incorrectly implicated former Tory minister Lord McAlpine as a paedophile.

In a statement given outside New Broadcasting House Entwistle accepted that his position as editor-in-chief of all BBC content had become untenable in light of the "unacceptable journalistic standards" displayed by Newsnight.

Earlier on Sunday Entwistle gave signs of defiance in a Radio 4 interview with John Humphrys, but revelations that he had not been aware of the controversial Newsnight episode until after it aired, and that he had not read a front-page Guardian story that unravelled the episode's claims, seemed to have caught up with the 50-year-old by evening. Was he right to step down?

Case for: Not curious enough

Every man and his dog knew that something was up with this Newsnight programme, so how come Entwistle didn't? Sure he probably has more things in his inbox than you or I, but wasn't the lesson from the whole Savile scandal "PAY ATTENTION"? Entwistle says he doesn't always check Twitter. Or read the papers. But even if he's too busy to make sure the BBC doesn't defame somebody as a paedophile, he should have made sure someone alerted him to things like this.

Case against: Not his job

You don't run the BBC. You can't know what it's like. There must be umpteen divisions, flinging stuff at you all day and all night. Then you've got to give speeches, appear before MPs and scrabble around under a mountain of chores. This was the fault of Newsnight editors, lawyers and those who actually checked over the episode - and saw nothing remiss. Entwistle has a reputation for being decent and talented - he should have been allowed to correct the mess.