More BBC executives exit as organization deals with turmoil over investigations

By Daniel Levine,

The BBC, one of the most respected public news organizations in the world, is still in turmoil as it continues to deal with investigations into its handling of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal and the erroneous reporting of allegations against a politician. The two top executives at BBC News have both temporarily stepped down, following the director general’s resignation.

According to The New York Times, director of news Helen Boaden and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, both “stepped aside,” the BBC said. The news comes after the BBC’s Newsnight had incorrectly reported that Conservative politician Alistair McAlpine was accused of child sexual abuse in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The BBC is also being investigated over its handling of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal last year, when it decided not to run a story about the late BBC host on Newsnight.

BBC management said in a statement that it needed “to make it absolutely clear that neither Helen Boaden nor Stephen Mitchell had anything at all to do with the failed Newsnight investigation into Lord McAlpine.”

Nick Pollard, a former Sky News head, is leading the Savile investigation. The BBC said that Mitchell and Boaden will return to their roles after Pollard concludes his investigation. Fran Unsworth and Ceri Thomas will take over in their place.

Over the weekend, Director General George Entwistle resigned 54 days after he took the post. Some are questioning the $715,000 salary he will still be paid, reports NBC News. The UK government has already denounced the payout.

The scandal has also clouded the future of Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor and the incoming New York Times CEO. Thompson was the director general at the time that Newsnight did not run the report on Savile.

Tim Davie has taken over as acting director general and he vowed that the BBC will “get a grip.”

Lord Chris Patten, the BBC Trust’s chairman, called the scandal a “ghastly mess” and admitted that changes need to be made at the top.

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