BBC staff may face Newsnight action
BBC staff are facing the prospect of disciplinary action amid growing anger over the broadcast of child abuse allegations which wrongly implicated a former senior Conservative.
The corporation's director general George Entwistle admitted the Newsnight report which led to Lord McAlpine of West Green being falsely identified as a paedophile should never have been shown.
With ministers and MPs demanding an explanation as to why the latest crisis to hit the BBC had erupted so soon after the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal, Mr Entwistle promised swift action against anyone found to be at fault.
An urgent report he commissioned from BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into the Newsnight report is due on his desk on Sunday. He said: "Further action will follow from that - disciplinary if necessary."
However, Mr Entwistle was forced to defend his own position after he disclosed that he had been unaware of the Newsnight report until after it had been shown. But he said he would not be resigning over the issue.
MPs expressed concern that new procedures he put in place after the Savile affair - when the BBC was panned for not running a Newsnight report exposing the late DJ as a child abuser - had still not resolved the problems in the corporation's management structure.
The chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, John Whittingdale, said someone would have to be held accountable for the latest fiasco. He said: "I certainly think somebody needs to take responsibility for this."
The Newsnight report dramatically unravelled on Friday night when child abuse victim Steve Messham said Lord McAlpine was not the man who had abused him when he was a teenager at a North Wales children's home in the 1970s and 1980s.
Although the programme, shown on November 2, had not named the peer - referring only to a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era - it quickly resulted in him being identified on internet blogs and social media sites. On Friday night, with lawyers for Lord McAlpine indicating they were preparing to sue for defamation, the programme broadcast an on-air apology.
In a statement the trustees of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said they were "appalled" at what appeared to have been a breach of its standards. "To the extent that the principles of the bureau have been ignored by an involvement in this story, remedial action will be taken against those responsible. The trustees must ensure that due process is applied and are establishing the key facts," the statement said.