Belfast Telegraph

BBC NI’s chief ‘in charge of Newsnight’

By Staff Reporter

The head of BBC Northern Ireland was the most senior figure involved in the “chain of command” which signed off on a programme that wrongly linked a former senior Tory to a child abuse scandal.

Acting BBC Director General Tim Davie has said the Director of BBC Northern Ireland, Peter Johnston, was the highest ranking employee involved in the Newsnight broadcast that wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine in child abuse.

The BBC was forced to pay out £185,000 to Lord McAlpine and issued a grovelling apology.

Earlier this month, Mr Johnston said he wouldn’t be quitting his £145,000-a-year job in the wake of the scandal that has already claimed a director general.

Mr Davie appeared before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee yesterday with BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten.

Mr Davie did not go into any more detail about the role Mr Johnston — a former Ballymena Academy student — played as the BBC has yet to complete an internal disciplinary process.

Mr Johnston was appointed Controller (now Director) of BBC Northern Ireland in 2006.

Belfast Telegraph


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