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."


More on This Story

From other news sites

* May require registration or subscription


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    When the BBC Trust does not have a Baron, a Dame, a Sir, or a Lord or people with CBE, OBE, KG and all the other none sense bestowed upon them, we may have a neutral and subjective Trust that represent the Nation and not the Crown, and its vested establishment interests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.
    1 Minute Ago
    Dismantle the BBC, remove the "institutionalised" left-wing bias, and reconstruct it around the original model.

    I see Murdoch is posting here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    What Patten should ' come to grips with ' is the fact that it is his job to prevent these things in the first place not after the horse has bolted if not then it should be. When is he resigning ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    If one works at the cutting edge of news then mistakes will be made, the things going on at the BBC now mean it will stay away from the cutting edge & if an investigation gets near the edge then producer will refer decisions upwards to management whose main aim will be to play safe & kill the story to keep their jobs + defintely not report suspicions about unnamed politicians,

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    So Mary Whitehouse was right about parts of the BBC systemically corrupting and abusing the young. We should not forget that she first got angry as a school teacher in Shropshire, just over the border from Clwyd - where local figures and their protectors were using the names of national figures to conceal their identities and threaten those who might report or investigate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    The BBC is a great institution but it requires a top to bottom root and branch review

    =>The scope of the BBC is vast,from its technical research to running transmitters to TRYING to keep abreast of public mood and taste. It has a huge number of departments that eachspecialise in a target audience. That's how it should be. So Patten's first questions is What should the BBC achieve

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    The BBC is amazing.
    There are several things I'd improve (this comment facility for one), but I would rather it stayed just the same (with even the odd accidental wrong accusation), than it was cowed and subjugated under a load of red tape and restrictive PC practices.
    Too much vetting and monitoring, and it will become no different to N Korea.

  • Comment number 48.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I can't help but feel that the Murdoch & other right wing press & politicians who the BBC scrutinise & criticise are twisting the knife a little too gleefully.

    There are clearly arrogant figureheads in the BBC but it's the least partisan mainstream news outlet we have. I also feel that there's an agenda to curtail the BBC's investigative journalists & stop funding public broadcasting.

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Entwistle accepted responsibility and did "the honourable thing"... but there must be people who were directly responsible who must also go. Entwistle was unlucky to walk into such a mess not of his creation.

    Entwistle's most serious failing may be his poor PR skillls; PR will be crucial over the coming months. High standards are of little value if people do not trust the organisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Dismantle the BBC, remove the "institutionalised" left-wing bias, and reconstruct it around the original model.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Every time a Conservative (or Blairite for that matter), uses the words "radical structural overhaul" you can bet your bottom dollar it means sell off to the private sector.
    G4S tv anyone?
    A4E news anyone?
    Public service broadcasting brought to you by our sponsors anyone?

    No? Thought not!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I stopped watching the BBC News some time ago. It used to be the byword for accurate reporting of UK and World news; It's become a vehicle for political bias and 'BBC' opinions on what's going on. Our local BBC station conducted a campaign against a local hospital that had made some mistakes; its open trolling for further complaints was shameful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Less management and more programme making please. Bury the terrible legacy of John Birt!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The BBC is typical of a malaise in public service organisations. Too many overpaid managers & directors who are out of touch with their own staff & the general public. I'm sure a high degree of this arrogance & hubris comes down to the very high pay & payoffs many undeservedly receive. Tick box culture, overpresentation, risk aversion, political correctness are all characteristics of this class

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The whole organisation is rotten to the core - close it down and privatise it. NI have their house in better order than this dreadful bunch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Patten said the Trust was unanimous in its pick of Goerge Entwistle. Clearly none of them watched the coverage of the Jubilee River Pagent for which GE was entirely responsible. That sort of failure doesn't boad well. As for BBC reorganisations there seems no end to them with 'Delivering Quality First' or delivering Management first it seems to me. Managers survive, workers get the chop. Typical!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    This is the biggest load of STUPID

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Gentlemen; What about your Boss before the unfortunate Mr. Entwistle?


Page 74 of 76


More UK stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.