BBC Director-General Entwistle resigns

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Director-General of the BBC George Entwistle resigned yesterday. Mr Entwistle earlier in the day said he would stay on as Director-General but yesterday evening he said he was doing the "honourable thing" by stepping down.

Earlier this week, flagship BBC investigative programme Newsnight was embroiled in controversy as it was revealed the programme had wrongly implied former Conservative chairman Lord McAlpine had been involved in child abuse at a children's home in Wales. Steve Messham said the man he had identified as abusing him in the 1970s at Bryn Estyn children's home was not Lord McAlpine.

BBC logo.
Image: Fluteflute.

Although Newsnight did not name Lord McAlpine by name, the programme did allege a former Conservative figure had been involved in child abuse. Allegations then surfaced on the Internet about Lord McAlpine.

Mr Entwistle said earlier yesterday that the film should not have been broadcast. In the evening, Mr Entwistle, who started his post on September 17, said in a statement outside Broadcasting House, "In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor in chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general."

"the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general."

George Entwistle

He added that "the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader". He said it had been a "great honour" to lead the BBC.

He continued: "While there is understandable public concern over a number of issues well covered in the media — which I'm confident will be addressed by the review process — we must not lose sight of the fact that the BBC is full of people of the greatest talent and the highest integrity."

Chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten said: "This is undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings of my public life. ... At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation."

The BBC announced BBC Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie would become acting Director-General.