BBC director general George Entwistle resigns in wake of misreported pedo story

George Entwistle, BBC director general, has resigned after a Newsnight report wrongly implicated a former lawmaker in a child sexual abuse case. From the Telegraph's coverage:

Mr Entwistle said quitting was the “honourable” thing to do as he had to take responsibility as editor in chief of the BBC for what Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said was “unacceptable shoddy journalism”. He has lasted just 54 days in the job. Mr Entwistle’s decision plunges the BBC into its deepest-ever crisis and leaves it leaderless at a time of mounting questions over its journalism.

You know who got this story right? Brass Eye.


  1. This whole story has managed to reach a very large value of crazy, very quickly.

    But isn’t it a strange coincidence that the accusations against the BBC have shiffted 180 degrees from- “Why did you do nothing?” to “Why are you conducting this ridiculous witch-hunt”, as soon as a member of the governing party was named?

    1. Probably because making baseless accusations against innocent people isn’t the best way of ‘doing something’.

    2. Probably because making baseless accusations against innocent people isn’t the best way of ‘doing something’.

    3. a member of the governing party someone whose innocence 30 seconds of competent journalism could have confirmed

      Two diametrically opposed fuck-ups eliciting different responses isn’t really that strange a coincidence.

    4. BBC celebs have been buggering underage fans in the dressing rooms for decades and their response was to accuse a public figure without so much as bothering to show his photo to the accuser for confirmation. They really should go to prison on charges of Aggravated Stupidity.

      It’s the only way to be sure.

  2. Drunk Nate Silver dials the BBC.  “If you just had a false positive to cancel out your false negative, then you’d be statistically perfect again,” he said, giggling as he hung up.

  3. I don’t have the first idea what this is about any more. Newsnight reports in good faith an accusation made in good faith that happens to be false (allegedly because the *police* told the victim the wrong name) and now the DG has fallen on his sword? WTF?

    1. Newsnight didn’t bother to show a photograph of Lord McAlpine to the witness, nor did they contact McAlpine himself for comment before running the programme.
      In the meantime they’d been leaking like crazy that a senior Conservative politician was going to be named on Newsnight. At no point did anyone in Newsnight or Entwhistle’s office ask serious questions about the robustness of a story that would be political dynamite were it to be true.

      Channel 4’s senior political editor called McAlpine the day the story was broadcast. They got a straight denial and evidence that the BBC story was shot through with holes.We can only imagine how long this would have gone on had McAlpine not been incredibly brave and gone on the public record himself.
      Entwhistle admitted today he didn’t know anything about the programme beforehand, he didn’t watch the broadcast, he hadn’t seen the tweets, he didn’t know about the Guardian’s story several days later that effectively torpedoed the supposed scoop. Instead he seems to have spent his time going around making speeches rather than actually running the BBC. His title is Editor in Chief – he was managing (badly) – NOT editing.

      The fury of Eddie Maer on last night’s Newsnight, John Humphreys on Today and their most senior journalist, Jonathan Dimbleby is palpable. There appears to be no real oversight of news at the BBC, nor does their topmost manager appear to be interested in what it does.

      This is a horrible own goal for the BBC, much, much worse than the largely fabricated accusations made against them by the last Labour government. It took years for the BBC to stop cringing after Hutton, now we’re going back to a dark place when the most powerful and authoritative news organisation – perhaps in the World – can’t do basic journalism.

      1. This whole story came from Tom Watson MP raising this issue in Prime Minister’s Question Time. the story was covered by other news outlets, including Channel 4 who when I watched their “Past on Trial” special, implicated an unnamed Tory, local councillors, Freemasons, but they haven’t been criticised, neither has Philip Schofield for ambushing Cameron with a list of names he got off the internet.

        This is just a stick for the Tories to beat the BBC with. First Newsnight gets bashed for not investigating an alleged paedophile scandal, and then Newsnight gets bashed for trying to investigate an alleged paedophile scandal. They didn’t even raise this allegation in the first place. It was right and proper to investigate this story that was already in the public domain. They named no one.

    2. Fallen on his sword?  This, including the Jimmy Savile stuff, is one of the biggest stories in BBC history and he claims that he never saw the program, knew nothing about it and never saw or was told about any of the tweets that touted it for a week ahead of time.  That makes him the only human being in the UK who didn’t know what was going on.

      He’s either a monumental liar or the most useless boss the BBC has ever had.

        1. But he does.  And he killed another story this week.

          And the crisis deepened last night as it was claimed that the former director-general personally intervened to axe a Panorama investigation into two newspaper tycoons, which was due to be aired tomorrow. According to well-placed BBC sources, Mr Entwistle ordered the programme on Daily Telegraph owners Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay to be pulled as he believed it was ‘risky’ – but did not fully explain what he meant.

          It will be replaced by a documentary about badgers.

    1. Don’t bother, it’s just going to make you sweaty, and it’s awfully crinkly.

      The whole thing is just such a f*cking media auto-cannibalistic frenzy. If there is any substance to any of these allegations, wait for the police and public enquiries to get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, blaming the people in charge of the BBC now for shit that happened decades ago is rather infantile.

      As to the Newsnight fiasco: Would you expect the head of a big corporation to resign over a misjudgement by someone running an important, but by no means dominant, subdivision?  I wouldn’t.  The head of Newsnight might have reason to resign; the head of the BBC? I don’t think so. He’s been in office for two months, he’s still figuring out how shit works.  Putting someone else into the same position in 3 months time is hardly going to improve the situation.

      There’s a bit of an epidemic of pointless resignations here.  The people that SHOULD resign never seem to…

      The MPs that fiddled their expenses… didn’t resign. On the whole. A few did.
      The “Education Secretaries” that presided over a school system that allows 1/5th of pupils to leave primary school without being able to read and write properly… didn’t resign.
      The Prime Minister who took the UK into the Iraq War with blatant lies and a manipulated dossier…. is getting paid loads of money by JPM. And he didn’t resign. Nor was he held to account.

      So let’s get some bloody perspective on this. Insinuating someone is a paedophile is a bad thing, particularly if you have no proof.   Now, the UK is “blessed” with one of the harshest libel laws in the world – so maybe (just maybe – I’m not actually advocating that) the head of NewsNight should be personally liable.  But why on earth would your boss’s boss’s boss have to resign because he did?

      Oh, and in other news, the economy is still fucked, Europe is still fucked, oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, we’re really beginning to fuck the planet to the point that climate change is starting to hurt.  But let’s instead just focus on the inside of our westminster-media-bubble teacup where there’s an IMPORTANT storm brewing.

      For the avoidance of doubt: Yes, I do despair.

      1. The thing about the story I can’t get a firm handle on is precisely how or why did Steve Messham believe for so long that Lord McAlpine was his abuser? He claims that he was shown a photograph by the police in the 90s which they told him was McAlpine – if true, why would the police have done this? According to a Guardian article: “But the allegations made by Messham began to unravel after it emerged that he told the Waterhouse inquiry in 1997 that the McAlpine family member he believed to be his abuser was now dead. Lord McAlpine is alive and living in Italy.”
        But if Messham said in 97 that his abuser was dead, how could he have believed it was Lord McAlpine until just recently

  4. It makes me laugh (not in a good way) that the tabloids called for the head of the (head of the) BBC for not looking into every story ever broadcast when, at least technically, no laws were broken. Should we compare and contrast with the behaviour of the tabloid press itself? There’s probably no point dredging up everything done in the name of selling a dead tree with some red ink on the mast head, but it’d be nice to see some people on Fleet Street taking notes. Instead they push the same old self-regulation crap and claim that Leveson is nothing more than an axe being ground. And their readers eat it up, shake their head in disgust, and beg for more outrage. I feel a peptic ulcer coming on as I type this. Brilliant.



      ’nuff said.

      Page three isn’t the issue, by the way. 

      Regarding press regulation: Simply enforcing existing laws would be more than sufficient; governments “regulating” the press is a dangerous slope to go down.

       And their readers eat it up, shake their head in disgust, and beg for more outrage
      That is always amusing. People were outraged about the behaviour of the News of the World – yet they kept on buying it.  Where did they THINK the stories were coming from? The Fleet-Street News Fairy?

      Every country gets the press it deserves.  Which doesn’t say a lot of good things about Britain.

  5.  Entwhistle? Where are his pals Barmy Fotheringay Phipps, Gussie Fink-Nottle, and Boco Fittleworth, when he needs them? 

  6. +1 for Brass Eye!
    “Why is it that we can no longer think of the British Isles, without the word ‘paedoph’ in front of them?”

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