UPDATE, 4:50 AM : A review into the cancellation of a BBC Newsnight program that would have revealed allegations of rampant sexual abuse by late BBC personality Jimmy Savile has been released. In the report, overseen by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard, are strong criticisms of the BBC Trust along with senior BBC executives past and present. The review (read it here) found that the BBC response to the scandal that blew open in October when rival ITV aired a program outlining allegations against Savile, was “chaos and confusion.” Pollard said, “The efforts to get to the truth behind the Savile story proved beyond the combined efforts of the senior management, legal department, corporate communications team and anyone else for well over a month.” Former BBC director general George Entwistle and BBC1 controller Danny Cohen didn’t look hard enough at the issues at the time the Newsnight report was shelved in late 2011 and tributes to Savile aired on BBC1, the review found. This was especially in light of emails that had been sent to Entwistle and Cohen, but apparently not read, that mentioned a “darker side” of Savile. Newsnight editor Peter Rippon is to be replaced but head of news Helen Boaden’s October offer to resign was not accepted and she will return to work tomorrow. Her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, resigned just after the Pollard report was published this afternoon. Speaking after the report was unveiled, Pollard said the Savile/Newsnight affair made for “one of the worst management crises in the BBC’s history.” BBC board member Dame Fiona Reynolds said the corporation will improve the channel of communications between news and management. “News must be independent, but it is not a silo,” The Guardian quotes Reynolds as saying.
PREVIOUS, 1:06 AM: In October, former Sky News chief Nick Pollard was charged with leading an inquiry into the controversial cancellation of an investigative report by the BBC’s flagship current affairs program, Newsnight. Had the report run, it would have exposed allegations of the abuse of scores of minors by the late Top Of The Pops host Jimmy Savile during his decades-long career at the BBC. Pollard was commissioned with the review as the allegations against Savile grew and the scandal ballooned at the venerable broadcaster leading to questions about management and whether bosses pressured Newsnight to shelve the potentially explosive probe in favor of airing holiday tributes to Savile. Today’s findings are expected to conclude that no pressure had been applied by BBC bosses on Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, sources told The Guardian. Among the people interviewed for the Pollard inquiry were former BBC chief Mark Thompson who is now president and CEO of The New York Times Company. Thompson has maintained he did not know of the sex abuse allegations against Savile, nor was he involved in cancelling the Newsnight report. Others involved in the probe are head of news Helen Boaden and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, both of whom stepped aside in November. Boaden appears confident she will avoid censure. According to The Guardian, a Boaden colleague sent an email to all BBC journalists on Monday saying the exec will return to her post in the new year. A press conference is expected this afternoon on Pollard’s findings.
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