Reaction to inquiries into BBC Newsnight Savile reports
- 19 December 2012
- From the section UK
Both BBC management and journalism have been criticised in two scathing reviews of Newsnight investigations.
Ex-head of Sky News Nick Pollard found there was "chaos and confusion" at the BBC over a decision to axe Newsnight's report on Jimmy Savile in 2011.
And BBC Scotland's Ken MacQuarrie found another Newsnight report - which led to Tory peer Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse - had been the result of a "serious failure" of journalism.
Many have been reacting to their reports.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller
"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."
Ben Bradshaw, former Labour culture secretary and member of the culture, media and sport committee
"I think the controversy over the next days is going to be the BBC's response to Pollard. This is a chance to clear the decks and to have a full assessment of what went wrong… and as a great friend of the BBC I hope they do that.
"He [Nick Pollard] is absolutely lacerating about BBC News management's failure. As we understand it, the deputy head of news, Steve Mitchell, has resigned or retired - it's not quite clear which.
"Apart from that there has been no change. I think people will be asking themselves whether the level of the response from the BBC to this report today has been adequate and commensurate with the seriousness of the criticisms in it."
Lord Patten, BBC Trust chairman
"The former director general is no longer in his post. The deputy director of news is gone. Other people have been replaced from their jobs.
"I think that the issues of culture and leadership of the management problems that have been identified in that terrific, searingly honest report of Nick Pollard's are ones that have to be addressed. But I don't think you necessarily address them by just putting heads on spikes."
George Entwistle, former BBC director general
"Pollard's report underlines the fact that any managerial shortcomings relating to Newsnight's aborted Savile investigation were largely the result of unsatisfactory internal communications...
"I am pleased that the Pollard Report makes it clear I played no part whatever in Newsnight's decision not to broadcast the original Savile investigation - just as I was not personally to blame in any way for the journalistic failures on Newsnight when it broadcast its erroneous report about the North Wales care home."
Steve Mitchell, deputy director of BBC News
"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."
Andrew Marr, BBC presenter
"He [Steven Mitchell] was always one of the most cautious, straight down the line, old-fashioned traditional voices in the BBC.
"Clearly, there were lots of mistakes made, but any sense - and Pollard of course has pushed this to one side - that there would be improper pressure applied by Steve Mitchell on a programme about paedophilia or anything else - [is] utterly, utterly out of court - completely impossible and against his character."
Adrian Van Klaveren, controller of BBC Radio 5 Live
"I am writing to you following the BBC's announcement today that I am leaving 5 live and moving to a new job. It is a very sad day for me at the end of an incredibly difficult few weeks...
"What is of course especially hard to take is that I am leaving 5 Live as a result of events which had nothing to do with how I carried out my job here. Rather, it happened after I had just begun a temporary role in the most challenging of circumstances."
Liz McKean, Newsnight reporter who worked on the axed Savile investigation
"The decision not to run the report was seriously flawed, but it was more than that. I think the decision to drop our story was a breach of our duty to the women who trusted us to reveal that Jimmy Savile was a paedophile.
"Many found it difficult to share their experiences as vulnerable girls. Our editor didn't watch the main interview with our witness. Nick Pollard did and found her credible and compelling, as did we. As for what he called the chaos caused by the inaccurate blog of October, I welcome the recommendation that the BBC should trust its journalists."
Meirion Jones, Newsnight producer involved in the axed Savile report
"Last Christmas, Newsnight knew - the BBC knew - that Jimmy Savile was a paedophile. We knew there'd been a police investigation, they'd taken it seriously. We'd interviewed a victim - a very good victim - on camera. We had corroboration, we had footage of victims with abusers on BBC premises, and yet the BBC decided to pull the investigation and run tributes to Jimmy Savile instead.
"I hope the BBC takes measures to make sure nothing like that will ever happen again. What I do feel confident about though is that the BBC has now taken measures to make sure that children are safe here."
The National Union of Journalists
"The NUJ notes with concern that the Pollard report identified fundamental failings of the management culture at the BBC, especially BBC News.
"The NUJ believes that confirmation by the BBC Trust of 'long term failings' in the attitudes of senior management is a positive step forward to tackling what the union believes to be a deep-rooted problem. It welcomes the confirmation from the Trust that 'change must start with the people at the top behaving differently' including 'embracing criticism'."
Neil Midgley, the Daily Telegraph
Lord Patten was "very combative" towards some journalists in this morning's conference. He was "unnecessarily and inexplicably hostile this morning". Mr Midgley added it was "remarkable" that nobody has been fired over the Newsnight reports.
Miriam O'Reilly, broadcaster and journalist tweets: The BBC deserves more than some of the people who've been failing to manage it #savile
Liz Dux, solicitor for the some 40 alleged victims of Jimmy Savile
"We're talking about 12 months in their suffering that has been prolonged by this. Twelve months is an awful long time. It could have led to absolutely disastrous consequences for the victims, because if Savile's estate had been distributed in that twelve months they would have been left with absolutely no access to justice at all."
She added the victims did not want to see "months of BBC soul searching".
Baroness Neville-Jones, former BBC governor and security minister for
"What is really important is what the BBC now does by way of strengthening and clarifying the lines of responsibility for editorial control...
"I think there are some institutional problems here. I think also there are just too many people at the BBC. This is an organisation that needs de-layering so that more people take more full responsibility and you can't evade responsibility by it being half somebody else's.
"So I think it should be trimmed and there needs to be a certain amount of institutional reorganisation as well."
George Carey, filmmaker and first BBC editor of Newsnight
"The litany of criticism that Nick Pollard makes of the BBC management is pretty appalling, frankly. And I should think it's worse than the BBC expected...
"It seems to me there has been another - if I may put it this way - BBC management failure, and that is judging how to respond to this. Tim Davie, the acting director general, was quite reasonable in saying he wanted to be fair and do this, that and the other. But the fact is, from the outside, it looks astonishing that there's just one deputy head rolling and a few people shifted to this side or that."
Sir John Tusa, broadcaster, former head of the BBC's World Service and former Newsnight presenter
The Pollard report painted "an awful picture of an organisation that is so mired in processes" it cannot make decisions.
"Clearly there are steps, sidesteps, policy people, compliance people, and it was very clear from what Pollard says, people didn't know what they were doing and when it came to making decisions, they didn't. An organisation that allowed that sort of structure to grow up so that people can't make decisions has got something to do - it has got to be cleared out.
"The over-management, over-bureaucratisation of the way BBC news and other bits of the BBC have been made to run was never necessary in the first place and what we are now seeing is all those bad habits coming home to roost in a very bad way."