BBC Starts Disciplinary Proceedings in News Division Amid Crisis

2:14 AM PST 11/13/2012 by Georg Szalai

An initial internal probe into a wrong report by flagship news show "Newsnight" cites "unacceptable" editorial shortcomings.

LONDON - The BBC is starting disciplinary proceedings in its BBC News division, focusing on staff involved in a report on news flagship program Newsnight that wrongly suggested a British politician was involved in a child abuse scandal, BBC News reported Tuesday morning.

It didn't immediately say which news executives may be affected and whether they are likely to be fired, exonerated or face another form of action.

Citing sources, the Guardian reported that Liz Gibbons, who has recently served as Newsnight's acting editor, and supervising executive Adrian Van Klaveran are among those facing a disciplinary review. It said that could result in them being let go or exonerated.

The BBC overnight also published its initial internal review of what went wrong with the report, highlighting "unacceptable" editorial shortcomings, such as the fact that no-one from the program ever sought comment from the politician in question, because he wasn't named by the show. However, his name was later identified on Twitter.

Newsnight representatives relied on comments from an abuse victim who had been told that the politician had been his abuser. However, they never showed him a photo of the politician to confirm this. The victim later found out he had been given a wrong name.

"Basic editorial checks were not completed," the interim report on the initial BBC probe on where the news program had gone wrong concluded. A full report is expected at a later stage.

"There was a different understanding by the key parties about where the responsibility lay for the final editorial sign-off for the story on the day," the interim report also said, adding that Newsnight worked on its abuse report for only five days.

The BBC Trust, the governing body of the broadcaster, said the findings were "very concerning."

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