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Scathing report attacks payoff for former BBC boss

MPs have delivered a scathing assessment of the way the BBC paid off former Director General George Entwistle at the expense of the licence fee payer.

Former BBC Director General George Entwistle outside BBC Broadcasting House after announcing his resignation in November
Former BBC Director General George Entwistle outside BBC Broadcasting House after announcing his resignation in November Credit: Press Association

George Entwistle received £450,000 when he was forced out of the job after just 54 days. The sum was twice what he was entitled to, as set out in his contract.

He resigned following a series of scandals at the BBC involving Jimmy Savile, and the false allegations made in a Newsnight report about Lord McAlpine.

Entwistle: Report shows I played no part in Savile exposé

Former BBC Director-General George Entwistle has suggested the Pollard Report has exonerated him of involvement in the decision to shelve Newsnight's Jimmy Savile investigation.

[The Pollard Report makes it] clear that I played no part in determining the fate of the Newsnight exposé on Jimmy Savile.

I had no involvement whatsoever in the decision not to broadcast the piece and at no time did I seek to influence the decision or have any impact on it.

– Former BBC Director-General George Entwistle

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John Humphreys 'didn't aim to humiliate' Entwistle

BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys has insisted he did not set out to humiliate George Entwistle during the interview that led to the former Director-General's resignation.

The journalist was widely acknowledged as the man who sealed Mr Entwistle's fate during a Today programme interview about his handling of a series of crises at the BBC.

Former BBC Director-General George Entwistle
Former BBC Director-General George Entwistle lasted 54 days in the role Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Mr Entwistle spent the majority of his 54 days in the role of Director-General trying to deal with the fall-out from the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal.

Mr Humphrys told Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme he believed Mr Entwistle struggled during the Today interview because he was trying to tell the truth.

"It was all rather sad", the broadcaster said. "He did look pretty down, I must say. It wasn't a happy moment and not just because he was a colleague, which of course he was, and I both like and respect him, but you don't want to see somebody facing that sort of interview".

"I know it was said in the papers the following morning that he had been humiliated. I didn't set out to humiliate him, of course I didn't", he added.

Former exec: BBC 'very slow' to deal with Savile scandal

The BBC was too slow to deal with the unfolding Jimmy Savile sex scandal, according to a former high ranking corporation executive.

Richard Sambrook, the former BBC Director of Global News who also served on the corporation's management board, said the BBC was "very slow to spot the toxic nature of the story".

He told Radio 4's Media Show:

I think initially they thought this was about what a BBC contracted performer had done privately a long time ago and 'we'll let the police deal with it', failing to realise it was actually about what may have occurred on the premises with BBC guests for which they shared a responsibility.

As soon as you have a major star who has appeared in lots of programmes accused of paedophilia on the premises it's not something you can say 'Well that's just a matter for the police"'.

Mr Sambrook added that the BBC had suffered from not replacing the role of Deputy Director-General which was eliminated as part of a cost-cutting exercise last year.

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Grayling warns Twitter users also face libel laws

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has warned that Twitter users who libel individuals on the social networking site face the same laws as newspaper editors.

Mr Grayling told MPs, "It is utterly, utterly wrong that anybody should have their name blackened, inappropriately and falsely, on any form of social media".

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling addressing the House of Commons
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling addressing the House of Commons Credit: ITV News

Speaking after a report on BBC's Newsnight led to Lord McAlpine wrongly being branded a child abuser, the Justice Secretary said he is "as concerned as anybody else about what has taken place over the last two weeks".

"The laws of libel apply equally to what you publish on your Facebook page or Twitter page as they do in a printed form," Mr Grayling said. "Those who are damaged in that way have full legal redress to try and get proper justice".

Ofcom chief '10/11 favourite' for BBC role

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards is favourite to take over the role of BBC Director-General according to William Hill, which is offering odds of 10/11.

The bookmaker has caretaker boss Tim Davie in second spot with 2/1, former BBC Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson next with 5/2 and Tony Hall - Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House - in fourth with 5/1.

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BBC DG- they think its all over - Tony Hall in at 5/1 4th fav to get Beeb top job.10/11Richards; 2 Davie; 5/2 Thomson; 12 Jackson;100Paxman.

Jeremy Paxman is a rank outsider with odds of 100/1, William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said.

Jowell: Crisis must not 'undermine' case for BBC

Former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has stressed the crisis at the BBC should not be used as an excuse to "undermine" the case for a public broadcaster.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Ms Jowell said the public should be left to run the corporation, though short-term issues such as "the culture of moralistic smugness" must be "urgently addressed".

Former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the public should be left to run the BBC
Former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the public should be left to run the BBC Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

"This crisis must not be allowed to herald the slow death of the uniqueness of the BBC", Ms Jowell wrote.

"Lord Reith said that the role of the BBC was to 'inform, educate and entertain'. Only radical public ownership will continue to ensure that these values are firmly embedded at the heart of the corporation and restore the trust it needs to overcome this crisis in the longer term", she concluded.

Clegg: BBC's Enwistle pay-off 'difficult to justify'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told Daybreak former BBC Director-General George Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off is "difficult to justify" and "difficult to explain".

"My reaction was like everybody else's", Mr Clegg said. "Mr Entwistle was offered this money, he did not need to take it and it is up to the BBC to justify, as Lord Patten sought to, why they took this decision".

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke to Daybreak this morning
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke to Daybreak this morning Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Asked about calls for Lord Patten to consider his position as Trust Chairman, Mr Clegg told BBC Breakfast, "I don't think it is the time to go round claiming that X person at the BBC should be promoted or Y person should resign".

"Clearly, the BBC is in a very difficult situation and is suffering a real crisis if you like of confidence in parts of the way in which some of the journalism is done in some programmes", he added.

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