BBC needs 'radical overhaul', says Lord Patten


Lord Patten: ''I didn't try to argue him out of it because I think he'd made his mind up''

A radical "structural overhaul" of the BBC is necessary after the resignation of the director general, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has said.

George Entwistle quit on Saturday after a controversial Newsnight report led to a former Tory treasurer being wrongly accused as a child abuser.

He will receive a year's salary - £450,000 - as part of a pay-off.

The BBC Trust said acting director general Tim Davie would set out his initial plans on Monday.

The BBC's Norman Smith says the Trust had confirmed Mr Entwistle will be given a year's salary, even though he was legally only entitled to six months pay.

Our correspondent says it is understood the decision to give him a full year's salary was taken on Saturday night in order to reach a swift resolution to his departure.

Lord Patten has said a new director general would be chosen within weeks.

The BBC Trust said on Sunday night that it had had a discussion with Mr Davie and was "looking forward" to him setting out his plans for dealing with some of the issues arising from the 2 November Newsnight broadcast on Monday "as a first step in restoring public confidence".

'Seriously defamatory'

Before his departure, Mr Entwistle had commissioned a report from BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation. He was expected to report to the BBC on Sunday.

On 2 November Newsnight reported abuse victim Steve Messham's claims against a leading 1980s Tory politician being an abuser in north Wales, but he withdrew his accusation a week later, saying he had been mistaken.


  • Operation Yewtree: Scotland Yard criminal investigation into claims that Jimmy Savile sexually abused young people
  • BBC investigation into management failures over the dropping of a Newsnight report into the Savile allegations
  • BBC investigation into culture and practices during Savile's career and current policies
  • BBC investigation into handling of past sexual harassment claims
  • Department of Health investigation into Savile's appointment to Broadmoor "taskforce" and his activities at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary
  • Director of Public Prosecutions review into decisions not to prosecute Savile in 2009
  • North Wales abuse inquiry by National Crime Agency head into abuse claims from 70s and 80s, fresh claims, and police handling of the claims
  • Mrs Justice Macur appointed by PM to review the 2000 Waterhouse review which looked into the north Wales abuse
  • BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation into north Wales abuse claims

Lord McAlpine, although not named on Newsnight, was identified on the internet as the subject of the allegations. He said the claims were "wholly false and seriously defamatory".

Lord Patten, told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, he had to show licence fee-payers "that the BBC has a grip, that we get ourselves back on the road".

Of Mr Entwistle's departure, he said: "He's editor-in-chief of a great news organisation and I think he felt he should take responsibility for the awful journalism which disfigured that Newsnight programme [on 2 November].

"And one of the ironies is that he was a brilliantly successful editor of Newsnight himself for some time."

Mr Entwistle lasted just 54 days on the job, but Lord Patten praised him as "a very, very good man, cerebral, decent, honourable, brave".

He said it was too soon to talk of cutting Newsnight but said there was an "argument" for the BBC to look at giving the head of news a stronger role.

"I don't think you would ever want a situation in which there wasn't one person who was the boss - primus inter pares [first among equals]. But I do think you need to look at the relationship between the director general of the organisation, editorial and creative and I think that anybody but an archangel needs strong support in those areas."

BBC News management has not responded to requests for comment.

Downing Street sources say the prime minister believes the situation is "very difficult, very serious" but the BBC has the capacity to reform itself and to address failings.

Mr Cameron believes the BBC needs to "show grip" and Lord Patten "has started to make the right noises," they added.

In a tweet, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the BBC needed to put reforms in place and recruit a "strong" director general. He said it was "essential to restore trust in one of our great national assets".

Mr Entwistle was criticised for not knowing about the north Wales programme until after it screened, for not being aware of a newspaper article which revealed the mistaken identity, and for not knowing about a tweet saying Newsnight was poised to broadcast the revelations.

Lord Patten said he was aware of the tweet, which mentioned Conservative politicians, but said it would have been "grotesque interference" if he had contacted the programme then.

Tim Davie arriving at BBC New Broadcasting House on 11 November 2012 Tim Davie was appointed acting director general immediately after Mr Entwistle's resignation

"I did subsequently ask whether the programme was being properly edited, whether it was being managed, and I was assured that it was."

Mr Entwistle had said the report had gone through management and legal checks before broadcast.

Mr MacQuarrie's report is not the only inquiry into Newsnight.

One inquiry is examining whether there were BBC management failings surrounding the decision not to broadcast a Newsnight programme about sex abuse claims surrounding the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

Another inquiry has begun into the culture and practices at the BBC in the era of alleged sexual abuse by Savile. Another review is to examine sexual harassment policies at the BBC.

In the wake of the Newsnight Savile row, several senior news managers stepped aside from certain responsibilities while investigations took place.

In an email to staff after Mr Entwistle resigned, Lord Patten said the "priority now is to address the very serious questions that still remain around the original decision not to pursue the initial Newsnight investigation, how last week's story went so horribly wrong and, most importantly, how the BBC's historic culture and behaviour allowed Jimmy Savile to get away with his vile criminal activity".

Restoring trust

Home Secretary Theresa May told Marr it was the right decision for Mr Entwistle to go.

"At the core of question about the Newsnight piece on north Wales is a question about the quality of journalism... I think the BBC has got a job to do to restore that trust."

Theresa May: ''I think it was the right decision that George Entwistle took to resign''

She said two inquiries she announced last week into the abuse claims - one reviewing the Waterhouse Review into the original 1990s claims, and one looking at the police handling of the historic claims as well as fresh allegations - would continue.

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said Mr Entwistle had not shown "clear leadership" but there was "such a depth of support and admiration and commitment" for the BBC from its staff and the public.

Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee said BBC journalism was "second to none, it is more trusted than anyone else" but a "bad mistake" had been made with the Newsnight story.

Former culture minister Kim Howells called for the resignations of Lord Patten and the BBC director of news, Helen Boaden.

He told BBC Wales' Sunday Supplement Programme: "Unfortunately there is a culture at the top of the BBC that is vain and out of touch. It's not doing what it should be doing which is supporting and encouraging muscular investigative journalism of the highest quality."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    This is just the latest mess the untouchable and arrogant BBc has got themselves into. It is no longer fit for purpose and has for years been heading from impartiality to biased opinion and has now become the source of news instead of reporting it. NO MORE licence fee tax should be raised and the budget cut down to at least 50% of its current bloated consumption. The last DG is a BBC example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Patten acquitted himself well this morning and Dmibleby's contribution was very interesting too.

    But the underlying fact is that the only people who don't "trust" the BBC are those people who hate it anyway - Murdoch, certain MPs, some pundits -and those that like to rant and rave.

    The public as a whole have NOT lost their trust in the BBC. They like it just as it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The answer to this seems clear, BBC news should be split off from the rest of the BBC. That we rightly expect the DG to have a close overview big news issues whilst at the same time he has overall responsibility for things like CBBC and pop on radio 1 is a nonsence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    A radical overhaul may be needed. Starting with the trust. Patten must go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    What a filthy stinking cover-up this all is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The BBC is a fantastic institution, but it seems to me that it is riddled with problems such as nepotism, political bias, and what appears to be overpaid and lazy journalists. We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but Patten is right to be thinking that a thorough shake up is needed to bring this monopoly broadcaster into line.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Hope we can speak freely today and not be mod'ed off. The BBC has completely lost any respect it had left in Scotland. Long before this weeks scandal the BBC has been manipulating the public with its one sided pro unionist stance in the independence debate. Every headline story is a scare story, and is it not weird there are NEVER any pro independence stories. Time to be fair BBC. wWise up

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    All the BBC journalists wanted to do was get the words 'Thatcher', 'Tory' and 'paedophile' into the same sentence, and repeat the sentence as often as possible. In that respect the Newsnight programme was a complete success. They won't be worried about little things like inquiries or apologies. The Broadcast Wing of the Labour Party will march on!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    It's about time the Beeb got back to reporting on the news instead of making it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The overhaul needs to address the institutional Gaianism within the BBC, come clean on the "Secret 28" and start to explain to the British people why they have subject to meretricious propaganda at their expense for almost a decade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    What authority does Patten have?

    - Whilst Chairman of the Conservative party, the electorate booted him out at a general election, largely due to his involvement with the Community Charge.
    - Major then unashamedly appointed him as governor of Hong Kong and then subsequent Establishment cronies have appointed him to high office.

    - Remember: Not the peoples’ choice! (The ESTABLISHMENTS!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Why do we still have to pay a license fee to this discredited organization that is commercial in everything but name?
    Have one TV and one radio station that ARE public service, paid out of general taxation, the rest make Pay to View.
    I don't have to buy the Sun newspaper whether I want it or not (else be labelled a criminal).
    Why do we HAVE to pay for the bbc whether we want it or not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    The BBC doesn't need overhaul.

    1. Police lied to Mr Messham.
    2. Polaroids of the abusers were ordered destroyed by a judge.
    3. The abusers went scot free.
    4. Mr Messham's witness testimony is discredited.

    We are not stupid. It is clear which institutions need overhaul.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    One of the worst aspects of this was the BBC's snide attempt to get in a dig at the Government and the Right by trying to link child abuse to 'Tories' and the 'Thatcher era'. Disgraceful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    David Elstein is right. The governance model of the BBC is too incestuous. The Trust is now a dead duck: it's part of the problem. Regulation of the BBC should be transferred to OFCOM along with the rest of the UK media universe, and and an outsider brought in to restore trust, remove layers of management in the famous "chain of command", and stamp out the civil war in the BBC News operation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Radical overhaul?

    So that will be another stuffed suit (or skirt) from Oxbridge then....

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Looks as if the BBC bashers have got their Christmas early. All the usual suspects with their not very well hidden agendas lining up with baseball bats to give the Beeb a good old seeing to. What policy changes will be enforced and what will their relevance to current events be? I predict lots and very little.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Please don't forget that the BBC's problems are an establishment 'smokescreen' for the Saville affair. Please don't forget that it's those abused by the famous and not so famous that need our attention - not some broadcasting organisation. We can live without the BBC but we shouldn't be able to live with our consciences if phaedolphile rings get away with their heinous crimes. We are watching!


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