Hugh Grant Calls BBC 'Newsnight' Scandal 'A Terrible Thing'

on November 14 2012 11:55 AM
Hugh Grant
Actor Hugh Grant arriving at the High Court in London to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

During a Monday appearance on the U.K. political talk show "The Agenda," Hugh Grant commented on the events leading up to the resignation of George Entwistle, the BBC's director general, and the controversy surrounding a recent "Newsnight" broadcast.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Grant referred to the events that led to Entwistle's resignation as "a huge cock-up," or screw-up. He also called the BBC's wrongful implication of former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Alistair McAlpine in a child abuse scandal "a terrible thing." 

On Nov. 2, the popular program examined the highly publicized case of sexual abuse of children in North Wales care homes. The segment featured an interview with abuse victim Steve Messham, who claimed that a politician who was prominent in the 1980s, whom he did not name, abused him. Following the broadcast, online speculation led to the implication of McAlpine. 

A week later, Messham released a statement in which he apologized for identifying the wrong man. 

"After seeing a picture in the past hour of the individual concerned, this is not the person I identified by photograph presented to me by the police in the early 1990s, who told me the man in the photograph was Lord McAlpine."

The blunder, which resulted in Entwistle's resignation, has led the BBC to take disciplinary action against those involved in the broadcast. Last week, the network issued an apology for its error and suspended all "Newsnight" investigations underway while it reassesses its operations.  

On Monday, the Guardian reported that Iain Overton resigned as the editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism due to its role in the crucial on-air blunder.  

The North Wales child abuse scandal came to light in 1996 and led to a three-year investigation. According to the Independent, 100 to 200 children in social care homes were sexually abused between 1974 and 1990. It is the largest child-abuse scandal in U.K. history. 

Ever since he played a crucial role in exposing the News International phone hacking scandal, Grant has been a prominent commentator on cultural ethics in the U.K. Last November, the actor served as a witness for the Leveson Inquiry, a public examination of the British press' journalistic practices. Grant claimed that he was one of several high-profile figures whose phone was hacked by News of the World reporters in order to obtain information about his personal life.