Two more step aside amid BBC crisis

More BBC chiefs have stepped down over the Newsnight controversy

Two BBC news chiefs have stepped down

First published in National Entertainment News © by

The BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have stepped aside just two days after the resignation of director-general George Entwistle.

The corporation has also overhauled the "chain of command" overseeing the BBC's journalistic output, in response to a botched Newsnight report.

The BBC has been in crisis as a result of a Newsnight programme which mistakenly implicated Lord McAlpine in a sex abuse scandal and the ongoing issues arising from revelations about Jimmy Savile's abuse.

Mr Entwistle quit on Saturday night over his handling of the growing problems, and there have been calls for Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, to follow suit.

Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland, has delivered a report into the failed Newsnight investigation.

But the BBC said the temporary departures of Ms Boaden and Mr Mitchell from their roles were not as a result of the bungled Newsnight programme. Instead, they were in response to the "lack of clarity" surrounding who is in charge while the Pollard Review is making its inquiries. This review - led by former Sky news chief Nick Pollard - is looking into an earlier decision to shelve a Newsnight investigation into Savile's sexual abuse.

The BBC said today: "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."

The BBC's head of newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, and Ceri Thomas, the editor of the Radio 4 Today programme, are to fill in for Ms Boaden and Mr Mitchell temporarily. Karen O'Connor - a former deputy editor of Panorama and Newsnight - has also been drafted in as acting editor of Newsnight.

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