At a glance: findings on November 2 report

BBC conference BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten at a press conference on the reviews into Newsnight

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The BBC Trust has published its findings on the Newsnight report, aired on November 2, which led to former Conservative treasurer Lord McAlpine being wrongly implicated in allegations of child sex abuse.

The Newsnight item referred to incidents at care homes in north Wales during the 1970s and 80s.

The Trust report includes key findings from a BBC Executive report and the full text of an investigation by BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into the Newsnight story.

Conclusions: BBC Executive report

  • Basic journalistic checks on the story were not applied.
  • The Newsnight team did not make adequate attempts to seek validation for the story beyond what the reporter delivered.
  • The management of the story was inadequate.
  • Jigsaw identification of Lord McAlpine became possible and this risk increased during the day leading up to the broadcast.
  • The decision to broadcast the Newsnight report was wrong.

The BBC Executive also noted:

  • The Newsnight team in London did not tap into "considerable knowledge" about the story at BBC Wales and therefore an opportunity to address concerns on accuracy was missed.
  • The BBC Executive said the practice in parts of BBC News of not contacting Nations and Regions colleagues about investigations in their patch was "very poor".

Conclusions: BBC Trust

  • There was a serious breach of the Editorial Guidelines relating to accuracy.
  • The broadcast allegations were not based on sound evidence and had not been thoroughly tested.
  • As a result of the inaccuracy, the audience was misled.
  • The combination of the Newsnight report and online speculation led to Lord McAlpine being incorrectly identified as Mr Messham's abuser.
  • This was a grave breach which was costly to all concerned.
  • The Trustees have put on record an apology to Lord McAlpine and to the public for "this serious failure of BBC journalism".

You can read the full BBC Trust finding, including the 13-page report from Ken MacQuarrie here.

Information can also be found on a special section of BBC News Online here.

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