“In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor in chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general,” George Entwistle said in a statement outside New Broadcasting House. He said that when he was appointed to the role, he was confident BBC trustees had chosen the best candidate for the post and the “right person to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead”.
“However the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader,” he said.
“To have been the director general of the BBC even for a short period, and in the most challenging of circumstances, has been a great honour.
“While there is understandable public concern over a number of issues well covered in the media – which I’m confident will be addressed by the review process – we must not lose sight of the fact that the BBC is full of people of the greatest talent and the highest integrity.
“That’s what will continue to make it the finest broadcaster in the world.”
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, who made a statement following Mr Entwistle’s resignation, said: “This is undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings of my public life.”
He said: “At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation.
“As the editor in chief of that news organisation George has very honourably offered us his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes – the unacceptable shoddy journalism – which has caused us so much controversy.
“He has behaved as editor with huge honour and courage and would that the rest of the world always behaved the same.”
Tim Davie, who is currently the BBC’s director of audio and music, has been made acting director general.
Mr Entwistle took up the post of director general on 17 September.
Earlier today, Mr Entwistle said the Newsnight report, which wrongly implicated ex-senior Tory Lord McAlpine should never have been broadcast.