Newsnight was damaged says Paxman

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Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman has admitted he “thought about” quitting the programme after a scandal which saw an investigation into Jimmy Savile’s sex crimes dropped and a separate story led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse.

He told BBC Radio Five that he was still enjoying presenting the current affairs programme but admitted it had been damaged.

Asked if he considered quitting, he said: “I thought about it of course but in the end I decided that you know these were ... there were several bad decisions, they were individual bad decisions and I felt that loyalty commanded that you stayed or I stay.”

Mr Paxman also said senior figures at the BBC Trust – the Corporation’s governing body – proposed dropping the show.

He said: “It is my belief, I have never checked this out, that there were a couple of people on the BBC Trust who thought, who over-reacted, who thought that it should be shut down.”

However, Paxman said that was “never a serious possibility” and he would stay with the show “as long as somebody asks me”.

The decision not to run the Savile story, which was subsequently picked up by ITV and sparked a major police investigation, indirectly cost director-general George Entwistle his job after little more than 50 days heading the Corporation.

A review of events, carried out by former Sky News executive Nick Pollard, revealed rivalries and factional in-fighting at the BBC and said the decision to drop the Savile report was “flawed”.

Mr Pollard’s review, which cost the BBC millions of pounds, said its management system “proved completely incapable of dealing” with the issues raised by the axing of the story and “the level of chaos and confusion was even greater than was apparent at the time”.

Newsnight now has a new editor and some of the journalists involved in the dropped reports have now left the BBC.