BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) director general George Entwistle resigned on Saturday, just two months into the job, after failing to get to grips with a child sex abuse scandal that has thrown the 90-year-old state-funded broadcaster into turmoil.
Entwistle has faced widespread criticism since a rival broadcaster carried charges last month that a former BBC star, the late Jimmy Savile, is now said by police to be one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.
Condemnation grew after the corporation made an embarrassing apology on Friday following an admission that the BBC’s flagship news program aired a mistaken allegation that an ex-politician sexually abused children.
Speaking outside the BBC centre in London, Entwistle said he had taken the decision in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday because he was editor-in-chief.
“I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general,” he said.
“When appointed to the role, with 23 years experience as a producer and leader at the BBC, I was confident the trustees had chosen the best candidate for the post, and the right person to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. However, the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader.”
Entwistle’s association with the corporation goes back to when he was just six-years-old.
The schoolboy penned a letter then to the man then running the corporation, complaining that Tom and Jerry had been bumped off the schedule.
Forty-four years on it was the bumping off the schedule of the Newsnight Jimmy Savile exposè that spelt trouble for the editor-in-chief.
After weeks of damaging headlines about editorial failings and lapses in managerial judgement the pressure was building on Entwistle.
And after being forced to apologize for a second Newsnight mess in which the flagship program falsely implicated the former senior Tory Lord McAlpine in a child abuse scandal, Entwistle was left battling for his job.
It was all too much and Entwistle’s stint as director general was over in less than two months.