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BBC Jeremy Paxman Jimmy Savile

Jeremy Paxman reveals he considered quitting Newsnight after Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

October 6, 2013 | 3 min read

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman has revealed he considered quitting the programme after the revelations about child abuser Jimmy Savile and a report which led to the wrongful identification of Lord McAlpine as a paedophile.

Newsnight: Jeremy Paxman has revealed he considered quitting

After the Jimmy Savile scandal was revealed in an ITV current affairs programme it emerged that Newsnight had previously scrapped its own investigation into allegations against the former BBC television presenter.

Another separate investigation into child abuse allegations led to the identification of Lord McAlpine as a suspect, an incident which resulted in libel proceedings against high profile names who then named him on Twitter, including Sally Bercow. The BBC paid out £185,000 in damages.

Paxman told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I thought about it [quitting], of course, but in the end I decided that there were several bad decisions, they were individual bad decisions and I felt that loyalty commanded that I stayed. I did seriously consider it.”

The presenter added that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if rumours that BBC Trust executives had wanted to axe Newsnight in the immediate aftermath of the scandal were true.

“It is my belief – I’ve never checked this out – that there were a couple of people on the BBC Trust who thought, overreacted, who felt that it should be shut down. I have never checked it out but that was the story at the time,” he said.

The incidents led to the resignation of BBC director-general George Entwistle after just 54 days in the job and more than £5m has been spent by the BBC since on internal investigations.

BBC Jeremy Paxman Jimmy Savile

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The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London.

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