BBC review says basic journalistic checks not done

Tuesday 13 November 2012 11.50
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BBC's director of news Helen Boaden has stepped aside
BBC's director of news Helen Boaden has stepped aside
MPs from across the political divide have said Mr Entwistle's payout of £450,000 is unjustifiable
MPs from across the political divide have said Mr Entwistle's payout of £450,000 is unjustifiable

An official report into the BBC's Newsnight programme on 2 November has concluded that, during the editorial decision-making process, "some of the basic journalistic checks were not completed".

The report also maintained that there was confusion about who had the ultimate responsibility for "final editorial sign-off".

A BBC Newsnight report mistakenly implicated Lord McAlpine in a child sex abuse scandal.

A report by the BBC's Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into the Newsnight blunders found the programme's editorial management structure had been "seriously weakened" as a result of the editor having to step aside over the Jimmy Savile scandal, and the departure of the deputy editor.

The mistakes led to the departure of director-general George Entwistle on Saturday night.

BBC NI chief's role in Newsnight report queried

Meanwhile, The BBC has said it intends to clarify the role played by the director of BBC Northern Ireland in the Newsnight fiasco.

Peter Johnston, who has been with BBC NI since 1994, had some involvement before the programme was broadcast.

In a statement issued tonight, a spokeswoman for the BBC in Belfast said: "We can confirm that Peter Johnston was involved in decisions about the BBC Newsnight report on 2 November 2012.

Peter Johnston is on the BBC's management board at national level.

The 46-year-old, from Ballymena, Co Antrim, has a background in marketing and is understood to be on a salary of about £150,000.

BBC executives step aside

Earlier, BBC's director of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Steve Mitchell stepped aside in the ongoing crisis over a Newsnight report into alleged child abuse.

The BBC reported that Fran Unsworth, the BBC's head of newsgathering, and Ceri Thomas, editor of BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, have been asked to fill in for them.

Separately, the editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism announced his resignation in the wake of the bureau's involvement in the Newsnight programme.

Iain Overton had tweeted before the start of the programme that Newsnight would feature an item, which the BIJ worked on, about a "senior political figure" who is a paedophile.

His message - "If it all goes well we've got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile" - was retweeted 1,574 times.

Although the programme did not name the politician, it led to speculation on the internet, wrongly implicating former treasury minister Lord McAlpine.

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