London: BBC on Saturday apologised for airing a report that led to a former Tory politician being wrongly implicated in child sex abuse, and admitted it was facing a "crisis of trust". A BBC report in which an abuse victim accused an ex-Tory leader of sex abuse should not have been broadcast, BBC director general George Entwistle said on Saturday.
He apologised unreservedly to Lord McAlpine after the report led to him being wrongly implicated in abuse at Welsh care homes. Entwistle said he was only aware of the episode after it was broadcast. The BBC Trust said it expected "appropriate action" to be taken.
Lord McAlpine, although not named on Newsnight, was linked by Twitter users as the alleged abuser. The abuse victim, Steve Messham, apologised to Lord McAlpine, a former Tory treasurer during Margaret Thatcher's leadership, after saying he did not assault him.
Messham said in the 1990s he was shown a photograph by police of his alleged abuser but was incorrectly told it was Lord McAlpine. On Friday, he was shown another photo - and realised it was not the peer. Newsnight had reported on November 2 Messham's claims against a leading 1980s Tory politician without naming him.
Entwistle said: "It's no kind of excuse or exoneration, but it's important to say that the film itself did not make a named allegation". "This is a bad crisis of trust," Entwistle said. "It would be absolutely wrong to slur by extension the rest of the amazing work that is going on across the rest of BBC News." For the last month, the BBC has been embroiled in a controversy for not airing allegations of child sex abuse committed by one of its star hosts, the late Jimmy Savile.