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Savile pressure boils over at BBC

The pressure of dealing with the Jimmy Savile scandal has boiled over with a full-scale argument in the BBC newsroom and Lord Patten admitting the affair has done “terrible damage” to the corporation.

Head of editorial compliance David Jordan confronted Newsnight Savile investigation producer Meirion Jones directly in the open BBC newsroom yesterday afternoon.

One source close to BBC News said: “There was a stand up row between David and Meirion. David marched up to him and Meirion gave as good as he got. Tom Giles [Panorama editor] had to intervene and ask Jordan to leave.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “There was a frank exchange of views on a number of matters and nothing else happened.”

The argument took place on that day that Newsnight deputy editor Shaminder Nahal left the programme for Channel 4 News, where she starts on Monday 29 October.

Nahal’s leaving party took place last night and was attended by the majority of the Newsnight team including Jeremy Paxman who said the programme would be lost without her. Her departure leaves the programme with one deputy editor, Liz Gibbons, running the show in the absence of Peter Rippon.

One source said: “The atmosphere within Newsnight is terrible at the moment. The team should have been flying high with the move to the new studio last week.”

“The journalists are conflicted about how to treat the story and still feel there is more to come out”, said another source close to the programme.

The internal wrangling continues against the backdrop of Lord Patten’s remarks about the way the corporation has dealt with the crisis.

The chairman of the BBC Trust told ITV News the scandal has been “an appalling tsunami of horror with different stories coming up day by day.”

He added that he would not be surprised if there were resignations as a result of the mistakes made by the BBC.

“We have to find out who made mistakes, where those mistakes were made and what the consequences of those mistakes were. It seems difficult to believe there weren’t any mistakes and those have consequences.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • Now is the time for leadership. Helen, step-up. It is also a time for humility. Meirion and David need to let the enquiries seek the truth, put the rows to one side and get on with work. You are all well-paid professionals - behave as such. The damage this whole episode is doing to our entire industry is appalling. Do the wrong things, say the wrong things and the BBC might find in a place it does not want to be. And the whole country will be the worse for it.

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  • This is irrelevant to the child abuse. The time for the BBC to examine its own rectum is when the court has made its findings.

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  • I seem to recall that during a recent Louis Theroux clip, Saville actually said that IF he was pulled down, he would bring a LOT MORE down with him. It would appear that he was also a prophet!

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  • Patten is right that there will be resignations. But the resignations should be Now - from the 'chain of command', right up to the top. These overpaid senior execs have succeeded in transforming a scandal in the BBC entertainment division into a stain on all present-day British TV news and current affairs. They could not run a FTSE company. Let's hope the NY TImes realises its mistake before Mark Thompson starts his 'leadership' role there. Let journalists select who can really lead.

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  • Why has there been no mention of the role played in the newsnight saga by the huge departments Editorial Policy and Legal. Anyone who has had to have a Programme Green lit by these can testify to their thoroughness.
    Wasn't Ed pol specifically created to avoid these situations?

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  • "Dear friend can we have a chat over drinks later as we have a couple of issues we need to discuss..." Seriously do we expect a paper trail to the person who made a decision? That aside evidence to stand up rape allegations are notoriously difficult and nothing I saw in the Panorama programme led me to a different conclusion. All I see here is the cold hand of hindsight and we have all taken editorial decisions which may not live happily in the land of scrutiny given the fast moving news environment we operate in. Now if we found journalists who were playing with the babes - that is a story I want to break!

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