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BBC Deputy Head of News is 'retiring not resigning'

Following the publication of the Pollard Report, Stephen Mitchell, Deputy Head of News at the BBC, has released the following statement announcing that he retiring, despite earlier reports from the BBC that he was resigning:

It is with great sadness that I have decided to retire from the BBC after more than 38 years’ service of which I am very proud and which I have found greatly enjoyable.

Given the strain over the past month since being told to stand aside from the job I loved, having endured the Pollard review process and now having read its criticisms, I have decided that it is in my interests and those of the BBC that I bring my career to a dignified end.

Whilst I feel vindicated that the review has found that I put no undue pressure on Peter Rippon, I disagree with the remainder of Mr Pollard's criticisms in relation to me.

I am grateful for all the support I have received from friends and colleagues around the BBC.


Acting BBC chief defends response to critical report

ITV News UK Editor Lucy Manning asked BBC Acting Director-General Tim Davie why after the criticisms in the Pollard report, no one had lost their jobs.

Mr Davie said that, "the Director General has left the BBC, the Deputy Director of News has left the BBC and we're putting a totally new team in to Newsnight.

"Now I think there will be a lot of people with theories about what we should or shouldn't have done, I would say - go to the report and look at it calmly and think about what is fair and proportionate.

"That's what I've done and I think we've made the right decision."

Miller: 'Serious questions around BBC management'

I am pleased that the BBC Trust have acted quickly to publish Nick Pollard's review.

The report raises serious questions around editorial and management issues at the BBC and I look to the Trust to help tackle these.

I also remind the Trust how vital it is to publish all relevant evidence, as soon as possible, in order to re-build public trust and confidence in the BBC.

It remains critical that we do not lose sight of the most important issue in this - the many victims of sexual abuse by Savile.

I urge the BBC to now focus on the review into those abuses, and ensure it is swift and transparent.

I will remain in close touch with the Trust as they oversee this work.

– Culture Secretary Maria Miller


Savile crisis exposed 'serious problems' at BBC

Nick Pollard has been speaking at a news conference following the publishing of his damning report into the BBC's handling of the Jimmy Savile investigation. Facing further questions, he told reporters:

  • There were "serious problems" all the way through the Jimmy Savile investigation and subsequent crisis.
  • He denied the crisis had shown the BBC was ungovernable.
  • A "breakdown in communication" stopped Peter Rippon's blog being corrected swiftly, which went all the way to the director general.
  • There exists no proof that Newsnight producer Meirion Jones leaked stories about the Savile story, despite staff at the BBC claiming he did. Mr Jones vehemently denies it.
  • Trust of BBC journalism remains "very high" despite the crisis and "any fall is temporary".

Concern for Newsnight reputation 'played large part' in McAlpine failures

The BBC Trust also found that the Newsnight failures came in the immediate wake of the decision not to run an investigation in to Jimmy Savile and said that the situation had led to a "lack of clarity concerning who had overall editorial responsibility for the content of the Newsnight report".

File photo of Lord McAlpine in 1998 Credit: Andrew Stuart/PA Wire

They said: "Concern about possible reputational damage in that event 'played too large a part' in the decision to proceed with the broadcast."

"The Trustees were clear that there was a failure of editorial control within the BBC; this was a high-risk report which required rigorous supervision and did not receive it."

Newsnight never contacted McAlpine ahead of broadcast

The BBC Trust found that, although Lord McAlpine denied the allegations when he was contacted by a Channel 4 News journalist before Newsnight was broadcast, the BBC still made no attempt to contact the peer, which it should have done.

Trustees also said that concerns had been raised previously about the credibility of some of Mr Messham's evidence - which was known to members of BBC Wales, but no effort was made to contact them.

The Trustees considered that parts of BBC News not contacting colleagues in the nations and regions when investigating stories on their patch was very poor practice.

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