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 955.

    "54 Full Day's of Work" earned the BBC DG 66575 quid. That's more than many earn in three years.

    450000 / 145.50 = 3092 TV Licenses, Just to pay the bosses salary. That's not public service, that's public disservice.

    I say a few more heads need to roll.

  • rate this

    Comment number 954.

    the corruption at the core of the bbc, government, police, big business, won't be sorted by internal investigations.

    this is a much wider social problem, which extends into the spiritual realm, which most people have been conditioned to dismiss now, some people deserve their ignorance, at the top of the secular world system it is very dark, and most are under their control without realising it

  • Comment number 953.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 952.

    George Entwhistle was a valued employee who contributed greatly to the BBC. It was clear from his performance both in front of the select committee and on the Today programme, that he should never have been appointed into a role that he does not have the personal skills to hold successfully. Its the interview panel who selected him who should be shot, the poor man imploded under the stress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 951.

    The BBC might have got this all wrong they should have known a few more facts. maybe too many Managers and make it my story journalists with pc built in.
    They inject bias and propaganda and the public are sick of it.
    they DO NOT need to compete with ratings so Just solid truth and common sense and truthful investigation please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 950.

    923.Veronia "So why doesn't Lord Patten resign as he is the biggest boss?"

    Don't be silly, he's an experienced politician....

  • rate this

    Comment number 949.

    In other news..

    Remembrance Sunday
    Israel fires into Syria and plans to invade Gaza strip
    Earthquake in Burma, 12 dead
    Police Commissioner elections

  • rate this

    Comment number 948.

    Maybe Lord Patten should consider going too - Then leave the BBC to do their job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 947.

    915. james griffin wrote: "The BBC is selective with the "Truth"...they have been one sided and totally unprofessional on climate issues and on 9/11 it has been lamentable..."


    What, you mean the BBC have not fallen for completely stupid conspiracy theories perpetuated by nutters on the internet?

    Suddenly my licence fee feels like wonderfully good value!

  • rate this

    Comment number 946.

    As far as I can see, the only thing the BBC needs to be done over is HYS. There was a small window allowing far more, maybe limitless, words and a moderation queue so you knew your number and could check responses (if any) later. That was stamped on. We pay the tax, HYS would be a place to exchange views but the BBC has turned it into something risible..

  • rate this

    Comment number 945.

    I agree that radical reform IS needed at the BBC and I hope, given comments made by Andrew Marr a year or two ago, that the employee structure is changed to reflect that of UK society in general and NOT that of Islington and Haringey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 944.

    Who is this man to tell the nation that the BBC must reform or die? It doesn't belong to him, or any of the other self-serving grandees who are lining up to take pot shots at it. It belongs to all of us and we'd be a poorer country without it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 943.


    Burning fuel, acting under gravity, heated the internal steel structure below the impact point, and weakened it, leading to floor collapse. Air being compressed by collapsing floor levels overloaded the glass windows, causing the ‘explosion’ the BBC man saw. Slow motion analysis has identified structural buckling prior to collapse.

    The BBC man accurately reported what he saw

  • rate this

    Comment number 942.

    There is nothing wrong with the BBC, it's the only national insitution that still stands up to the standards we used to be able to expect. The real shame is that so many others now fall woefully short and the worse is - we just acccept it

  • rate this

    Comment number 941.

    @933. Unashamedly Independent

    What do you want people to say..."Good Job BBC, quality journalism, here have a cookie"...

  • rate this

    Comment number 940.

    13 Minutes ago
    900. Frank Lund
    Hear! hear!.. Add to that Multiculturalism, immigration good - Patriotism bad, etc etc
    BBC get over yourselves. Just another clan of like minded, ambitious fallibles intent upon impressing


    So, when did commercial channels broadcsat that stuff?

  • rate this

    Comment number 939.

    Not being British, I can't comment or totally understand the politics and agendas here. However, I have found the BBC to be a trustworthy source of news. I have it on my home page and read it before US news. I research and check out the accuracy of news reports. A person who relies on only one source of information is generally ignorant on any subject. a terrible crime was committed here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 938.

    2 very simple questions.

    Why is Chris Patten not resigning? He has been in his post whilst both the situation with Saville and the Welsh abuse scandal have been at large.

    How long will it be before the Conservatives move to reduce the independent editorial powers of the BBC to ensure that there is no objective coverage of the terrible damage their beliefs are causing to our country?

  • Comment number 937.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 936.

    922. ding-ding75
    Absolutely and at least on this HYS its actually about the BBC, usually the BBC haters will hi-jack any HYS, whatever the subject being covered to complain about the BBC, unless of course they can find a way to bring immigration into it, Even better if they can get the BBC and immigration into a post then they can really get the oil and rubber out.


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