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.”