LONDON – The head of the British Broadcasting Corp.'s main television channel resigned Friday over the editing of footage that was seen to wrongly imply that Queen Elizabeth II walked out abruptly from a portrait sitting with photographer Annie Leibovitz.
BBC1 controller Peter Fincham resigned after an independent inquiry released Friday criticized "misjudgments, poor practice and ineffective systems" at the BBC. Stephen Lambert, head of RDF Media Group, which made the program, also resigned Friday.
The BBC apologized to the queen in July after it aired for journalists a trailer for the forthcoming documentary. The queen, in fact, was entering the room, not leaving it. But in the editing of the footage, it appeared she walked out suddenly after Leibovitz asked her to remove her crown for a photo. The trailer was never shown on TV.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Fincham's resignation.
The independent inquiry, led by Will Wyatt, a former BBC executive, acknowledged he did not believe anyone intentionally set out to defame the queen. But it concluded the decision -- taken with Buckingham Palace press officials -- to delay correcting the facts until the following day was a mistake.
Fincham announced at a media preview on July 11 that the documentary would show the queen storming out of a sitting with Leibovitz following an argument over whether or not she should remove her crown.
He discovered within hours that the story was untrue -- but did not correct it until the following day.
"Throughout the morning on the day after the launch, BBC news was running with a story that two or three senior BBC staff had known since the previous evening was wrong," Wyatt said in his report.
"It took too long for anyone to address this and to ask 'How did this happen in the first place?"'
The report said the episode had strained the "vital relationship" between the BBC and the royal household.
Wyatt was also highly critical of RDF, which in addition to the documentary itself produced the misleading advertising trailer.
"A fuse was inexcusably lit when RDF edited footage of the Queen in a cavalier fashion for a promotional tape," Wyatt wrote.
BBC1 is the most watched of the publicly funded broadcaster's eight national television channels.
Fincham joined the BBC in 2005 after 20 years working for independent television producers.
The BBC has come under criticism for 11 other cases of audience deception, where contest results were faked or prerecorded programs were presented as though they were live.