In a shock resignation, the recently appointed Director General of the BBC, George Entwistle, has resigned. Since the Jimmy Savile debacle exploded around the staff of BBC headquarters, things have gone from bad to worse. Perhaps in an attempt to remove the focus off Newsnight, which had been accused of shelving a Savile investigation, the programme seized the opportunity to run a 'scandal exposé' of a paedophile politician who was supposed to have abused a young man in a Welsh care home. Though the programme did not name the politician, his name was later revealed in the media and on Twitter, and he turned out to be Lord McAlpine, a former secretary to the Treasury in Margaret Thatcher's era.
However, the story wasn't checked properly, it was not passed up the chain of command for vetting, and no lawyer checked its authenticity before the programme was aired. As bad luck would have it, the great scandal appeared to be based on mistaken identity. The man making the accusation has said that it wasn't Lord McAlpine at all who abused him and all hell has broken loose since then.
The Director General proved very inept in the face of the interviews he did about the 'shoddy journalism' of the programme. He admtited that he did not see the programme before it was aired, or even knew anything of it.
The consensus seems to be that he has been an ineffectual Director General, the man who chose to air a tribute to Savile while an investigation into his activities was being made. Surprisingly, his resignation was accepted, even though two enquiries around the Savile issue and the BBc are in progress, which leaves the BBC without a leader and in a terrible mess. Tim Davie is the new Acting Director General ,but he has little experience of journalism to be heading the Corporation.
What has happened over the past few weeks have put the BBC at a crossroads in its history where public confidence and trust have plummeted to dangerously low levels. It seems that only clear leadership and a complete restructuring of roles and staff might help it.
The real tragedy of it all is that George Entwistle served only 54 days in his new post. But as he was also a senior executive during the Savile debacle, he gradually became tainted with it, and Newsnight's sloppy reporting was the final straw. He felt it was the honourable thing to step down. The Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, has said that Mr Entwistle's resignation is 'regrettable' but the 'right' thing to do.
BBC LIVE News on the day's developments
The Mail Online: BBC Director General Resigns in the Wake of Sex Abuse Scandal