Entertainment & Arts

Profile: Peter Rippon

Peter Rippon
Image caption Rippon was editor of Newsnight for four years

Newsnight editor Peter Rippon is to leave the BBC's flagship news programme in the wake of the Pollard Report, which looked into the shelving of a report into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile.

He will not leave the BBC - but will take a new role "commensurate with his skills and experience", the corporation has said.

As editor, Rippon was in charge of Newsnight when an investigation into Jimmy Savile was dropped in late 2011.

The existence of the report came to light this September, when ITV pushed ahead with a documentary, examining the claims of paedophilia against the former BBC presenter.

A day before ITV's broadcast, Rippon wrote a blog explaining why the BBC had shelved its report. He denied he had been pressured into the decision because it clashed with the planned Christmas tributes to Savile who died in October 2011.

He said the story would have been stronger if it could have shown that the police had dropped a case against Savile because of his age - which it had failed to do.

Rippon also said he was influenced by the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service said it had dropped its own investigations into claims against Savile because of a lack of evidence.

He stepped aside on 22 October while an inquiry into Newsnight's handling of the story was carried out.

A BBC statement that day said his blog had been "inaccurate or incomplete" in some respects.

They included claims that the alleged victims Newsnight had interviewed for its story had contacted the police independently, and that the programme had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police.

In its statement, the BBC revealed that it in fact appeared "in some cases women had not spoken to the police and that the police were not aware of all the allegations".

BBC Trainee

Rippon was born in Henley-on-Thames where he attended comprehensive the Gillotts School.

He graduated from the University of East Anglia (UEA) with a BA in Philosophy and Politics, and gained an MA in International Politics from the University of Southampton.

He joined the BBC as a trainee in 1989, working his way up from local radio to the World Service, which he joined in 1992.

There, he was part of the launch team for the World Today, the service's breakfast news and current affairs programme.

He became the editor of Newshour in 2000 before moving on to Radio 4 in Autumn 2001, where he was later made deputy editor of news programmes the World at One, PM, Broadcasting House and The World This Weekend.

His experience and reputation put him in the running for several top jobs - including head of the BBC News Channel and controller of Radio 4. But it was Newsnight where he landed in 2008, replacing Peter Barron who had left to head up Google's press department.

On taking the role he said: "It's a huge honour to be asked to lead such a creative and talented team.

"In an increasingly crowded news environment Newsnight brings the authority, credibility and trust that defines the BBC's relationship with its audience."

Over his career, he has won numerous awards, including a Sony Gold in 2007 for PM and Newsnight's news programme of the year award from the Royal Television Society in 2012.

In October, Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, called Rippon "a very distinguished editor" when interviewed on Radio 4's The Media Show about the Newsnight affair.

Rippon stood aside in October while Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News, prepared a report into Newsnight's handling of the Jimmy Savile story.

Pollard found there was no "undue pressure" on the editor from his bosses to drop the story, but that his decision to do so "was seriously flawed".

The report added: "He made a bad mistake in not examining the evidence properly".

The decision to drop the report led to disagreements between Rippon and his journalists, the report said, and "relationships... began to break down".

Following the publication of Pollard's findings, Mr Rippon will not be returning to Newsnight.

His post will be advertised in the New Year, while Karen O'Connor will continue as acting editor in the meantime.

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