Changes at the top in BBC News

Fran Unsworth Fran Unsworth is now heading up the news division

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Tim Davie, acting director general, has appointed Fran Unsworth and Ceri Thomas as acting head of news and deputy head of news in the wake of Ken MacQuarrie's investigation into the flawed Newsnight of November 2.

MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, had identified a lack of clarity in the lines of editorial command and control in the absence of head of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Stephen Mitchell after they stepped aside from Savile-related coverage.

Speaking on the News Channel on Monday, Davie said the lack of clear leadership had led to 'fuzzy decision making' and 'journalistic errors'. He added that individuals may face disciplinary action as a result but stressed that he wanted 'to be fair to people'

'I have a job to do - to get a grip of the situation,' he said - a sentiment he repeated many times. 'The BBC needs to be trusted. If we haven't got that we haven't got anything.'

Start Quote

I have a job to do - to get a grip of the situation”

End Quote Tim Davie Acting Director General

He refused to comment on George Entwistle's £450,000 pay out, saying it was a matter for the BBC Trust.

Unsworth, head of Newsgathering, and Thomas, editor of Today programme, will now take charge of all news output pending the Pollard inquiry into the decision to pull a Newsnight report into Jimmy Savile.

Karen O'Connor has been appointed acting editor of Newsnight following the November 2 broadcast that wrongly accused a 'high-ranking Tory' of paedophilia.

She is taking over from Liz Gibbons, who was acting editor on the programme that led to the resignation of George Entwistle. Gibbons had been deputy editor under Peter Rippon, who has 'stepped aside' until Nick Pollard completes his inquiries.

O'Connor, who heads up London Factual Production in Vision, has worked in television for 20 years. Her credits include being deputy editor on Panorama and Newsnight, and editor of international documentary strands Correspondent and This World.

Karen O'Connor Karen O'Connor to be acting editor of Newsnight
'Fundamentally wrong'

Angus Stickler, who is a former BBC journalist, was brought in from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to lead Newsnight's investigation into child abuse in a care home in north Wales. He interviewed child abuse victim Stephen Messham for the report that implicated Lord McAlpine as the abuser. Messham has gone on the record to say that it was a case of mistaken identity.

Entwistle told John Humphrys on a Today programme on Saturday that the film was 'fundamentally wrong'. 'What happened here is completely unacceptable.' He resigned a few hours later.

Chain of command - Newsnight

The programme of November 2 would have been overseen by Gibbons in consultation with 5 live controller Adrian Van Klaveren, who was brought in as the 'defacto editor' of news coverage relating to the Jimmy Savile scandal in a temporary management set-up. Van Klaveren reported to Peter Johnston, director of BBC Northern Ireland.

Neither head of news Helen Boaden nor her deputy Stephen Mitchell would have had anything to do with the Newsnight programme, having stepped aside from any coverage related to Savile. They have now relinquished their duties completely until the Pollard Review reports.

'Precious institution'

BBC Worldwide will be led by John Smith until the end of November. It's unclear when Davie will be able to take over from him as CEO.

Davie said in an all-staff email on Monday: 'The BBC is a precious institution and I am determined to give the BBC the clarity and leadership it deserves in the next few weeks.'

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