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George Entwistle, who took office as Director-General of the BBC as recently as September 17th, has resigned from the post in the wake of controversy surrounding editorial standards following the handling of alleged child abuse revelations in current affairs programme Newsnight.
In a statement, Entwistle, who had worked at the BBC since 1989, said: “In the light of the fact that the Director-General is also the Editor-in-Chief and ultimately responsible for all content; and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2nd November; I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of Director-General.
When appointed to the role, with 23 years’ experience as a producer and leader at the BBC, I was confident the Trustees had chosen the best candidate for the post, and the right person to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. However, the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader.
To have been the Director-General of the BBC even for a short period, and in the most challenging of circumstances, has been a great honour.
While there is understandable public concern over a number of issues well covered in the media – which I’m confident will be addressed by the Review process – we must not lose sight of the fact that the BBC is full of people of the greatest talent and the highest integrity. That’s what will continue to make it the finest broadcaster in the world.”
Lord Patten, Chairman of the Corporation’s supervisory body the BBC Trust, said: “This is undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings of my public life. George Entwistle worked for the BBC for 23 years. He exemplifies the finest values of public service broadcasting. At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation, and as the Editor-in-Chief of this organisation, George has very honourably offered us his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes and the unacceptable shoddy journalism which has caused so much controversy. He has behaved as Editor with huge honour and courage and would that the rest of the world always behaved the same. George was set on putting in place a number of reforms and changes which will be required in this great organisation and it is a real tragedy that he has been overwhelmed by these events, as we all were to a great extent, before he was able to act in a way that was clearly necessary.”
Patten added that as from Sunday November 11, the acting Director-General would be Tim Davie – currently the BBC’s Director of Audio & Music, but designated to take over as Chief Executive Officer of BBC Worldwide on December 1 – with the Corporation beginning the process of agreeing on a permanent successor.