BBC director general Tim Davie vows to 'get a grip'



 
Acting director general Tim Davie: "My job now is to get a grip of the situation and take action"
The acting director general of the BBC has vowed to "get a grip" at the corporation following the resignation of George Entwistle over a Newsnight broadcast on child abuse allegations.
Tim Davie said he had set up a "clear line of command" in news.
The director and deputy director of news have been asked to "step aside" pending an internal review into the way claims about Jimmy Savile were handled.
The National Audit Office says it would look at Mr Entwistle's pay-off.
'Justified and necessary'
Mr Entwistle resigned after eight weeks as director general following a Newsnight report which led to former Tory treasurer, Lord McAlpine, being wrongly accused of child abuse in north Wales in the 1980s.
An NAO spokesman confirmed it would be speaking to the BBC Trust - the corporation's governing body - to investigate whether it should conduct a value for money study of the decision to grant him a payout £450,000 - a year's salary.

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Extract of Chris Patten's letter to John Wittingdale
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Amid criticism from Downing Street of the pay-off Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust wrote to Commons culture, media and sport committee chairman John Whittingdale, describing the decision as "justified and necessary".
His letter says the sum was what the BBC would have had to pay if the trust had fired Mr Entwistle and that the trust was considering sacking him if he had not volunteered his resignation.
In other developments:
  • In a Commons debate, Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman urged Mr Entwistle to consider giving up half of his severance payment. Downing Street sources said David Cameron believed it was a matter for Mr Entwistle's "conscience" whether to accept it
  • Mr Davie, told staff by email on Monday that there would be "no handbrake turn" in implementing work started by Mr Entwistle on "getting rid of anything that gets in the way of delivering the best of British creativity to our audiences"
  • Fran Unsworth, head of newsgathering, and Ceri Thomas, editor of Radio 4's Today programme have been asked to fill the respective roles of director and deputy director of news, for the time being, while "to address the pressure on the Newsnight team" Karen O'Connor will become acting editor of the programme
  • A journalist involved with the north Wales investigation quit his job at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. BIJ editor Iain Overton had tweeted before broadcast that Newsnight was going to link a senior political figure with paedophilia
  • Former director general Mark Thompson said he was confident the BBC would bounce back as he started his new job as chief executive and president of the New York Times newspaper
Mr Davie was appointed as acting director general on Saturday after Mr Entwistle announced his resignation.
In his first televised interview since taking the role, Mr Davie said: "If the public are going to get journalism they trust from the BBC I have to be, as director general, very clear on who is running the news operation and ensuring that journalism we put out passes muster.
"The first decision I have made is to get a grip of that, take action and build trust by putting a clear line of command in.
"Separately, we are going to look at the individual process, and there may be disciplinary action. But I want to be fair to people. I don't subscribe to the view that you should act very quickly in that regard and be unreasonable."
He said Mr Entwistle's pay-off was a matter for the BBC Trust.
Helen Boaden and Steve MitchellHelen Boaden and Steve Mitchell are senior news executives
Mr Davie told the BBC Radio he he hoped to talk to Lord McAlpine personally about Newsnight broadcast.
Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, was asked to investigate how Newsnight was allowed to broadcast its report and his findings were presented to the acting director general on Sunday.
The BBC said it found that neither director of news Helen Boaden nor her deputy Steve Mitchell "had anything at all to do with the failed Newsnight investigation into Lord McAlpine".

ABUSE INQUIRIES

  • Operation Yewtree: Scotland Yard criminal investigation into claims that Jimmy Savile sexually abused young people
  • BBC investigation into management failures over the dropping of a Newsnight report into the Savile allegations
  • BBC investigation into culture and practices during Savile's career and current policies
  • BBC investigation into handling of past sexual harassment claims
  • Department of Health investigation into Savile's appointment to Broadmoor "taskforce" and his activities at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary
  • Director of Public Prosecutions review into decisions not to prosecute Savile in 2009
  • North Wales abuse inquiry by National Crime Agency head into abuse claims from 70s and 80s, fresh claims, and police handling of the claims
  • Mrs Justice Macur appointed by PM to review the 2000 Waterhouse review which looked into the north Wales abuse
  • BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation into north Wales abuse claims
However, they were in the chain of command at the time that Newsnight shelved an earlier investigation into abuse claims against former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.
They had removed themselves from making decisions on some areas of BBC News output while a separate inquiry, by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard, was held into that decision.
The BBC said once the Pollard Review reports, Ms Boaden and Mr Mitchell "expect to then return to their positions".
Mr MacQuarie said: "To address the lack of clarity around the editorial chain of command, a decision has been taken to re-establish a single management to deal with all output, Savile-related or otherwise."
Meanwhile, MP Chris Bryant said there should be one overall inquiry looking into the child abuse scandal and subsequent BBC row rather than nine separate investigations.
The BBC is also looking into the culture and practices at the corporation during Savile's career and its handling of past sexual harassment claims.
Also, inquiries have been set up by the government to look into the way the original investigation into the abuse in Wales was handled and separate inquiries have been launched by the Department of Health and Director of Public Prosecutions.

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