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BBC places news chief and her deputy beyond use in Savile row

Latest DG leaps overboard from rudderless behemoth

The BBC's director of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Steve Mitchell have "stepped aside" as the corporation investigates Newsnight's handling of a report on child sex abuse by BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

Boaden was paid £354,000 last year, and a fortnight ago took time out to fend off a freedom-of-information request at a tribunal.

Mitchell, 63, has been with the BBC for 38 years. It is believed the gardening leave is temporary: the pair have not resigned while the Pollard review into Newsnight is conducted. It's one of two reviews established by the Beeb - the other, the Smith review, will hear from people who allege they were sexually abused by BBC staff including the late Jimmy Savile.

The BBC's director general George Entwistle resigned on Saturday after just 54 days in the job. He carried the can for another a bungled Newsnight investigation into a senior political figure that relied on a single source.

Entwistle received a £450,000 lump sum - one year's salary - on top of his £877,000 pension. Auntie's pension fund is £2.6bn in deficit, and the fund's liabilities rose £1.6bn in the last year. The fund has significant equity investments in the tobacco and pharmaceuticals industries - and internet companies including Apple, Google and eBay.

In June Ofcom found that three-quarters of TV news watched in the UK is produced by the BBC. The corporation boasts it operates three of the top five sources (BBC One, News 24, News online) of news for Brits; broadcasts at least 70 per cent of radio news; and snags 46 per cent of all page views in the top 50 online news providers. It has a dominant position in the UK news market.

BBC stalwarts including David Dimbleby, now 74, criticised the Beeb's bureaucracy, describing the broadcaster as "over managed and [rife with] management speak gobbledegook, it's gone bonkers". Why was the chief of BBC TV called "Head of Vision", Dimbleby asked this morning on BBC Radio 4. Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman also criticised Auntie's layers of managers - although it was the absence of management checks that ultimately brought down Entwistle.

Fran Unsworth takes over as acting head of news. In 2006 she helped set a new agenda for reporting environmental issues in a blog post of some historical interest.

Worse may yet come. Paleo-commentator Simon Heffer points out that the peer wrongly accused on Twitter following the BBC's Newsnight report has an ancient antipathy towards BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten.

So should an outsider get the job? And how can the new incumbent cut the bureaucracy when, as John Simpson writes, it's the middle-managers who are asked to do the cutting? ®

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