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Why Chris Patten got the BBC job

Michael Crick | 13:25 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Some interesting background on Jeremy Hunt's recent decision to pick Chris Patten as his preferred candidate to be the next chairman of the BBC Trust.

Hunt actually told the Culture Select Committee some months ago that he would prefer the next chairman to come from a non-party background. As a former Chairman of the Conservative Party, Patten doesn't exactly fit that description. But I'm told that after Hunt's statement to the Commons committee the BBC Director-General Mark Thompson told the Culture Secretary that the BBC would actually prefer someone from the same party as the government, on the grounds that such individuals tend to try and show their independence of their political colleagues.

That's partly why Patten got the job. Hunt felt that the other leading contender, Richard Lambert, would have been a Michael Lyons Mark II. Patten might lack experience when it comes to new technology, but the Culture Secretary felt that somebody who had stood up to Margaret Thatcher in the '80s, and to the Chinese government in the '90s, would be good at protecting the corporation's interests.



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