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 295.

    Lord Chris Patten ex Conservative MP for Bath (brought up there!), says tere needs to be a change. But this man is hardly politically neutral is he? What do others say? I am appalled at the witch hunt on journalists now. We need to see the full truth. What does it say that 20 years after a crime neither Police or investigation had checked details of an investigation? 236.
    toriestruffles, looking!

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    I resent that I have to pay for the BBC when I don't watch any of its programming anymore. It should be privatized to encourage it to clean up its act and start producing quality TV once again.

    So much of the quality TV drama and docs come from the US and Channel 4, the BBC lacks ambition and creativity compared to these.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    I've always found the BBC to have better quality broadcasting than than just about any other provider. When I look at Sky, CNN, ITV, etc. they just don't cut it.

    Any organisation needs to be willing to examine itself in order to modernise and improve. However, it seems to me that the individuals/bodies relishing in criticising the BBC are all those that have a vested interest in doing so.

  • Comment number 292.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Lord Patten should resign! The BBC was doing just fine until he turned up, now the Beeb is in a mess.

    Tories like Patten have always sort to portray the BBC, particularly Newsnight, negatively so I will take accusations against them with a pinch of salt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    I look forward to Phillip Schofield's resignation. Nothing against him, but what he did was without doubt highly unprofessional thoughtless act and could and indeed has caused untold stress to a number of people. If he worked for the BBC he would have gone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Lets start with independent unbiased non-aligned journalists who report facts without spouting their personal views.
    Evan Davis, Justin Webb take note.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    261. Lol. Now it's a liberal bias. How long before it's a democratic bias, I wonder?

    As a psychologist, I'd severely challenge the idea that reporting can be neutral. Overall, there can be balance. I think the Beeb achieves that. My evidence? They really p*ss me off sometimes, forcing me to change channel because of the "obvious" right-wing, establishment agenda. No obvious bias at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Endlessly reporting on Entwistle is not the proper subject. What smokescreen will be invented next and to avoid the real issue??

    The organised paedophile sexual abuse of orphan children in North Wales is the proper subject. However, now we hear nothing about that.

    Are the establishment closing ranks & to protect themselves from the real truth being known?

    Too horrendous I suspect?

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    It's known there is a Masonic Lodge in Parliament is there also one in the BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    Well I congratulate George Entwistlle on deciding to resign.
    He unfortunately was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    But don't worry...he will be looked after financially as the Higher
    up's have been saved.....Life goes on.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    So on the one hand the BBC is "too left wing", but on the other, Patten is orchestrating a "Tory cover-up"? Get real! And everyone who says that CEOs cannot claim they "don't know" or "can't remember" without consequences has obviously forgotten the Murdochs' performance re: hacking. And I note Mark Thompson (previous DG who presumably set up standards & processes) has been conspicuously silent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Lord Patten is right in that a radical reforming process is now needed, the corporation needs bringing into line with equality issues and its ethical code needs looking into too. It has been damaged but a lot of good can come out of a crisis with the right leader. It was the wrong time for Entwistle and I respect him for taking the action he has. Lets turn this ship around now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    Yes the BBC has to change, and it is obvious to see why.

    Why, when two similar alleged stories of wrongdoing are uncovered, does the BBC take two such different stances?
    If it is a BBC employee.....cover it up.
    If it is a senior Tory politican....publish it.

    Once it understands why that happened then it can take the appropriate action.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    So Lord Patten, a political appointee & Tory Grandee, is going to sort out the integrity of the BBC

    We can all sleep safely can't we

  • Comment number 280.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    I started to have concerns about the BBC some time ago, when several of their reporters were, in my view, trying to 'make' the news rather than give us an unbiased and unspun report. Nick Robinson is one of the worst offenders but there are others. In this case, the Newsnight broadcast was sloppy journalism, and a misguided attempt to get ahead of the other media.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    @262. Somethingtobe

    ...why did the Police show Mr Messham a photo of Lord MacAlpine at that time, or when he identified a person from a photo that was of someone else, give him the name of Lord MacAlpine as that person's identity?


    How do you know they did? Oh, I forgot the media told you so it must be true.

    Wake up! Journalists, politicians, police - none of them are trustworthy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    Murdoch’s revenge?

    Thatcher got rid of Alistair Milne. It seems a recurrent theme when we have a Tory government + Nick Clegg of course – very silent.
    Is this being done by a former Tory Minister to stop the BBC telling us which politicians like to abuse children?

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    "Restoring…" RELEVANCE?

    Having endorsed democracy, with best of philosophical legal argument, the duty of our Public Broadcaster is to ensure access - especially for parents, and teachers, and young adults with interest - to the highest quality of reporting, analysis, and life-enhancing 'entertainment'

    No longer made to 'compete in commercial bubbles', driven to worse to 'support' a market


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