The verdicts on Peter Rippon, Adrian van Klaveren, Helen Boaden, George Entwistle and Stephen Mitchell


Wednesday 19 December 2012 21:09

Peter Rippon, Editor of Newsnight

Verdict: Criticised for “flawed” decision to drop the Savile investigation. “He made a bad mistake in not examining the evidence properly.... I cannot understand why Mr Rippon did not give himself the chance of viewing the central interview and reading notes of other interviews.”

Response: “I am being judged not about what we broadcast, but what we did not, and this means there will always be questions about whether more could have been done to get the item on air. However, I do not agree my decision on this occasion was flawed.”

Outcome: Replaced as editor of Newsnight and moved to another role at corporation.

Adrian van Klaveren, Radio 5 Live Controller (given temporary Newsnight oversight role)

Verdict: The senior editorial figure to whom Newsnight referred when planning its report into child abuse in north Wales. BBC Editorial Standards Committee found confusion over who held editorial responsibility for inept report compiled without basic journalistic checks falsely linking Lord McAlpine to abuse claims.

Response: “What is especially hard to take is that I am leaving 5 live 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.”

Outcome: Moved to BBC Vision, responsible for TV channels and in-house production.

Helen Boaden, Director of News

Verdict: Criticised for “inappropriate” raising of Savile report with George Entwistle at a lunch on 2 December 2011. “Too casual, too fleeting, and left much uncertainty about the outcome”. Pollard surprised that “Ms Boaden does not appear to have taken a more pro-active role.... It was clear that a significant part of the division that she headed was in virtual meltdown, and I would have expected her to have taken a more active role in resolving things.... I think that, given her position, she should have taken greater responsibility.”

Response: Boaden’s lawyers contested the criticism of her by Pollard who found no evidence that she placed pressure on Rippon to drop the report for corporate reasons.

Outcome: After “stepping aside” during the inquiry, Boaden returns to her director of news post on Thursday.

George Entwistle, former BBC D-G

Verdict: Was “unnecessarily cautious, and an opportunity was lost” when told about Newsnight’s Savile investigation by Helen Boaden. Failed to respond to emails warning about Savile’s “darker side” when approving tribute programmes. Became mired in rigid bureaucratic management chain and refused to have conversation with Newsnight reporter he didn’t trust.

Reponse: The report “makes clear that I played no part in determining the fate of the Newsnight exposé on Jimmy Savile. The report underlines the fact that any managerial shortcomings relating to Newsnight’s aborted Savile investigation were largely the result of unsatisfactory internal communications.”

Outcome: Resigned as Director-General. Will be allowed to keep £450,000 pay-off.

Stephen Mitchell, deputy director of BBC News

Verdict: “Mr Mitchell’s decision to remove the Savile programme from the MRPL [Managed Risk Programmes List] was a serious mistake.... I can only conclude that he did so because of a misconceived notion that the programme was potentially so sensitive that it should not appear on the list.”

Response: “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.”

Outcome: Resigns without compensation after 38 years at BBC to “bring my career to a dignified end”.

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