2ND UPDATE 3:20 AM: Following Saturday’s resignation of BBC director general George Entwistle, the BBC Trust appointed Tim Davie, an executive from outside the news chain, to become acting director. A permanent director is to be appointed in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, Davie has written to BBC employees. He sent an email to staff this morning, which The Guardian has posted in its entirety. In part, it reads: “The BBC is a precious institution and I am determined to give the BBC the clarity and leadership it deserves in the next few weeks. What I will also do is continue what George set out – to work tirelessly on getting rid of anything that gets in the way of delivering the best of British creativity to our audiences. There will be no handbrake turn.”
Citing a “lack of clarity in the lines of editorial command and control in BBC News,” he writes, “I have decided to ensure total clarity and re-establish a single management to deal with all News output, [Jimmy] Savile-related or otherwise… You can expect to see management pulling together as one team, focused on tackling the problems the BBC currently faces head on. But I also expect you to continue to make the programmes and services that our audiences love and that make the BBC unique.”
UPDATE, 2:45 AM: It was reported earlier today that both BBC head of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Stephen Mitchell would be “stepping aside” from their functions. The BBC has now cited an ongoing inquiry into the controversial cancellation of a Newsnight investigation into alleged sex abuser Jimmy Savile as the reason behind what looks like a temporary move for the executives. That inquiry is being led by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard. Here is the BBC’s statement which references last week’s botched – and unrelated – Newsnight probe which resulted in the suspension of the show’s investigations:
The BBC wants to make it absolutely clear that neither Helen Boaden nor Stephen Mitchell had anything at all to do with the failed Newsnight investigation into Lord McAlpine.
Whilst recognising this, the BBC also believes there is a lack of clarity in the lines of command and control in BBC News as a result of some of those caught up in the Pollard Review being unable to exercise their normal authority.
In the circumstances Helen and Stephen will be stepping aside from their normal roles until the Pollard Review reports and they expect to then return to their positions.
PREVIOUS, BREAKING 12:14 AM…: As fallout continues at the scandal-plagued BBC, the broadcaster’s head of news, Helen Boaden, has “stepped aside,” the BBC is reporting. Boaden was in charge of news when a report on the BBC’s 60 Minutes-like investigative program Newsnight was killed last year. The investigation in question might have exposed alleged sexual crimes by late Top Of The Pops host Jimmy Savile which later came to light in an explosive exposé by rival network ITV. Newsnight editor, Peter Rippon, was the first to resign in relation to the Savile scandal last month and another, unrelated and discredited, investigation led the BBC to suspend the show indefinitely last Friday. BBC director general George Entwistle resigned over the weekend. His predecessor, Mark Thompson, is due to start as New York Times Company CEO today, the NYT confirmed to Reuters yesterday. Boaden’s deputy, Stephen Mitchell, is also stepping aside, BBC News said although the corporation has yet to make an official statement.