Tony Hall was 'outstanding' candidate

Lord Patten Lord Patten intends to serve a full term as chairman

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Tony Hall was the only candidate interviewed by the BBC Trust for the role of director general.

In a press conference on Thursday Lord Patten said it had been a 'unanimous' decision to appoint Hall as George Entwistle's successor by BBC trustees.

He said: 'He was the outstanding candidate and any arguments about process are pretty by and by.'

Hall will collect a salary of £450,000 as director general on top of his BBC pension which stood at £82,000 a year when he left the BBC in 2001.

The chairman argued that the BBC Trust had to move quickly in making the appointment in order to restore the BBC's reputation, and he accepted that he would have faced criticism had it taken 'another four months going through the process'.

'I am very comfortable to defend the way we operated,' he said.

Job for someone younger

Lord Patten revealed that the trust had spoken to Hall as a potential successor after Mark Thompson announced that he was stepping down as director general, but that Hall had decided not to apply because he felt it was a role for someone younger.

Start Quote

Managing investigative journalism is exceptionally difficult”

End Quote Lord Patten Chairman, BBC Trust

Asked whether the role of DG should be split, Lord Patten said he couldn't envisage a structure with two people at the top.

Instead, he said, the DG would need a 'strong team' around including 'somebody who was absolutely on top of the news and current affairs agenda. Managing investigative journalism is exceptionally difficult'.

Lord Patten said he had been under 'no pressure whatsoever' from No. 10 or the Culture Department to make a high speed appointment; the only pressure had been that of his 'obligations to do the best for the BBC'.

Payoff was 'best deal'

Adding that he intended to serve a full term as chairman, Lord Patten again defended George Entwistle's £450,000 payoff. He said he'd sought legal advice at the time as to whether the sum would be defensible in front of the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office and was assured it would be.

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[Entwistle deal] was the best one for the BBC, the best one for the licence fee payer and anything else we would have done would have cost us more”

End Quote Lord Patten

The deal was 'the best one for the BBC, the best one for the licence fee payer and anything else we would have done would have cost us more', he insisted.

The chairman paid tribute to the 'terrific and brave job' being done by acting director general Tim Davie and said Davie would get the 'active agreement' of Hall on decisions made over the next few months.

He added that he 'couldn't be happier' that Hall, with his 'formidable reputation' had agreed to be DG.

Hall told the press conference he'd taken on the job because 'I care passionately about the BBC'.

He described its news operation as a 'world beater' and said he was committed to ensuring the 'best and brightest' people wanted to work for it in the future.

'I want to build a world class team for a world class organisation,' he said before heading off to meet newsroom staff at New Broadcasting House. 'I'm looking forward to the task ahead immensely.'

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