Culture Lab U.K. (Culture-Lab)

Misjudgments, poor practice and ineffective system


Peter Fincham who was only appointed BBC One controller in 2005 has had to resign following an investigation into a video that misrepresented the Queen.

A documentary trailer was edited out of sequence and Mr. Fincham wrongly told the press that it showed the monarch walking out of a photo session 'in a huff'.

A recent report into the incident blamed "misjudgments, poor practice and ineffective systems".

The program was made by the production company RDF Media and its chief creative officer Stephen Lambert has also quit.

Mr. Fincham said he resigned because, "From the outset it was clear as controller of the channel I took responsibility for what had happened. I thought that was the right thing to do, the honorable thing to do".

He insisted the BBC had "acted in good faith" and admitted that leaving after only two and a half years was "probably shorter than I would have liked. Blame is spread in many different directions. Errors were made at different levels by different people at different times".

Will Wyatt, who is a former BBC executive that wrote the castigating report said that he doesn't think "anyone consciously set out to defame or misrepresent the Queen in the tape" and his report states "a fuse was inexcusably lit when RDF edited the footage of the Queen in a cavalier fashion. Mr. Fincham knew that the trailer misrepresented the Queen at 7pm on the evening of the press screening but a correcting statement was not put out until the following day and by that time, the news of the Queen "storming out" had already become a big story".

Responding to the report, BBC director general Mark Thompson said, "Serious mistakes were made, which put misleading information about the Queen into the public domain. That is why we are determined to take all necessary steps to address the shortcomings set out in this report".

The BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons said the report showed that "serious errors of judgment were made and that proper controls were not applied".

The BBC Two controller Roly Keating will now take over as acting controller of BBC One.

In the clip, the photographer Annie Leibovitz was seen telling the Queen she thought that that she would look better without her tiara because "the Garter robe is so...", but before she could say anything else, the Queen replied, pointing to what she was wearing, "Less dressy. What do you think this is?".

The clip then cut to the Queen walking through Buckingham Palace, saying to her lady in waiting "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much", implying that she had stormed out the portrait session.

However the scene of the Queen speaking to her lady in waiting was in fact filmed before the exchange over the tiara and not before it.