LONDON -- The director general of the BBC resigned late Saturday in the wake of a growing scandal surrounding news reports about prominent public figures accused of pedophilia.
George Entwistle, who was appointed to head the network less than eight weeks ago, said in a statement that he had decided that "the honorable thing to do is to step down."
His announcement followed a report on the BBC's flagship Newsnight program that the BBC said "wrongly implicated" a former official of Britain's ruling Conservative Party in sexually abusing a teenage boy.
Earlier Saturday, Mr. Entwistle said the report, broadcast on Nov. 2, reflected "unacceptable journalistic standards" and never should have been broadcast.
The broadcast seems to have only compounded the scandals plaguing the network since the revelation last month that a longtime BBC television host, Jimmy Savile, was suspected of having sexually abused perhaps hundreds of people.
Mr. Entwistle had recently appeared before Parliament to answer questions about a different Newsnight report, about the Savile case, that was never broadcast.
Late last year, Mr. Entwistle confirmed, the show had declined to air a report concerning accusations of a long history of child sexual abuse, some of it on BBC premises, against Mr. Savile, the host of wildly popular BBC programs from the 1970s to the 1990s. Mr. Savile died at 84 in 2011, and the BBC aired two glowing tribute documentaries in the following weeks.
Senior BBC executives including Mr. Entwistle were faced with questions about their roles in the decision not to broadcast the segment and forced, alongside the former director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, the incoming president and chief executive of The New York Times Company, to deny allegations of a cover-up. Mr. Savile is now the subject of a wide-ranging police inquiry. More than 300 women, and 2 men, have alleged they were abused by him.
The Nov. 2 Newsnight report contained an interview with a man, Steve Messham, who said he had been taken to a local hotel from a children's home in the North Wales town of Wrexham in the 1980s and abused more than a dozen times by a man he identified as a senior Conservative politician from the years when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in power. It fueled widespread speculation on the Internet as to the identity of the politician involved, and a former government official, Alistair McAlpine, was named online.
But it emerged that he had been the victim of mistaken identity. On Friday, Mr. Messham apologized, saying the actual Mr. McAlpine bore no resemblance to the man in the photos shown to him by the police in the 1990s. The Newsnight broadcast on Friday was a post-mortem of the story, featuring a broad apology to Mr. McAlpine by the management of the program and the BBC, coupled with an announcement that all investigative reporting by Newsnight was being suspended indefinitely.
As director general, Mr. Entwistle said in his statement, he was "responsible for all content," adding that "that the BBC should appoint a new leader."
Lawyers for Mr. McAlpine have suggested the BBC could be among the targets for a lawsuit.
On Saturday as observers and pundits dissected the unusual show and warned of a media-fueled witch-hunt for high-profile pedophiles, speculation that Mr. Entwistle could not survive mounted. He stepped out of a BBC complex, New Broadcasting House, and announced his resignation at 9 pm.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.