Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBC chief resigns over false sex abuse report broadcast on Newsnight

The director general of the BBC has resigned in the wake of a controversial broadcast on child sex abuse, the BBC announced Saturday night.
The director, George Entwistle, issued a statement saying, “I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down.”
Earlier Saturday, Entwistle said the report, broadcast on the Newsnight program, never should have been broadcast.
The report wrongly implicated a former Conservative Party official, Alistair McAlpine, the BBC statement said. He admitted that the program further damaged trust in a broadcaster already reeling from the fallout over its decision not to air similar allegations against one of its star hosts.
George Entwistle’s comments followed an embarrassing retreat for the BBC, which apologized Friday for its Nov. 2 “Newsnight” TV show on alleged sex abuse in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
During the program, victim Steve Messham claimed he had been abused by a senior Conservative Party figure. The BBC didn’t name the alleged abuser, but online rumours focused on Alistair McAlpine, a Conservative Party member of the House of Lords. On Friday, he issued a fierce denial and threatened to sue.
Messham then said he had been mistaken about his abuser’s identity and apologized to McAlpine, prompting fury over the BBC’s decision to air the report and the suspension of investigative programs at “Newsnight.”
“We should not have put out a film that was so fundamentally wrong,” Entwistle told BBC radio on Saturday. “What happened here is completely unacceptable.”

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