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Saturday 23 August 2014

BBC news chief pleads with staff not to Tweet about 'our problems'

Gordon Rayner

Published 13/11/2012 | 15:40

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FRAN Unsworth, the new temporary head of BBC News, has appealed to staff not to Tweet about "our problems" as she tries to sort out the mess of the Newsnight scandal.

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Referring to the "tumultuous and very sad events of the past few days", Ms Unsworth sent an email to the corporation's staff saying: "It would be helpful if some of our problems were not played out publically across social media and in the pages of the national press.

"We need a collective and collegiate sense of all pulling together to restore trust in the BBC’s news output."

Since the resignation of the previous director general, George Entwistle, on Saturday, some of the BBC's more high-profile staff have taken to Twitter to give the outside world an insight to the panic gripping the corporation.

Victoria Derbyshire, the Radio 5 Live presenter, said Mr Entwistle had "finally" resigned, while Norman Smith, the BBC's chief political correspondent, tweeted that Helen Boaden, who Ms Unsworth is relieving while an internal inquiry is carried out, would not go "without a fight" if the BBC tried to sack her.

Meanwhile Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, used his blog to dispute the BBC's claim that Ms Boaden had been happy to "step aside" from her role.

Ms Unsworth stressed her appointment "is a temporary one" and suggested Ms Boaden and her deputy Steve Mitchell would be back in their posts once Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News, had concluded his review into why Newsnight cancelled a film last year that would have exposed Jimmy Savile as a paedophile.

She said: "This is a tough time for everyone in the organisation - in particular for those of us in BBC News. And, of course, for some individuals most of all. Both Helen and Steve are outstanding leaders of BBC News whose experience and ability will be much missed in the coming weeks.

"Many of you have today shown a great deal of support for them and they wanted me to let you know how grateful they are for that."

Mr Mitchell's job is being carried out by Ceri Thomas, while Karen O'Connor, an executive in BBC Vision, is acting as Newsnight's editor.

Ms Unsworth continued: "Ceri, Karen and I do not undertake our newduties lightly. We would rather events had not worked out this way, but with our colleagues on the News Group Board, we will collectively do our very best to lead the division through these difficult times. We are relying on the support of all of you to achieve this.

"For the moment, we must focus on what matters most; delivering great journalism for all of our audiences. I have been enormously proud of the way you have gone about your jobs in your usual professional way, particularly over the past 48 hours. We now need to restore some equilibrium to the organisation."



Telegraph.co.uk

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