BBC needs 'radical overhaul' - Patten
The BBC needs a "radical" management overhaul after Director General George Entwistle resigned following a false report by one of its programmes, Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust has said.
The BBC needs a "thorough, radical, structural overhaul" of its management, Lord Patten said on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.
If the corporation loses public trust, "it's over," he said.
Mr Entwistle quit his post last night, less than two months after being appointed and fewer than two weeks after a television report by the BBC's Newsnight program falsely implicated a former senior politician with sexual abuse of a child.
Lord Patten said he would discuss the future of Newsnight with acting Director-General Tim Davie today, while a permanent replacement for Entwistle will be appointed within weeks..
In a brief statement outside Broadcasting House in London last night, Mr Entwistle said that he had decided to do the “honourable thing” and step down from his post.
“When appointed to the role, with 23 years’ experience as a producer and leader at the BBC, I was confident the trustees had chosen the best candidate for the post, and the right person to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead,” he said.
“However the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader.”
Standing alongside him Lord Patten said it was “one of the saddest evenings of my public life”.
A clearly emotional Lord Patten, who chose Mr Entwistle for the role, said that he had paid the price for the “unacceptable shoddy journalism” on Newsnight. “He has behaved as editor with huge honour and courage and would that the rest of the world always behaved the same,” he said.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “It is regrettable, but the right decision. It is vital that credibility and public trust in this important national institution is restored.”
Mr Entwistle, who had been in post for less than two months, has spent virtually the entire time trying to deal with the fallout from the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal.
The final nail in his coffin was the disclosure that Newsnight - which had been panned for not running a report exposing scandal - had wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine, a former Tory Party treasurer, in a child abuse scandal in north Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
In a bruising interview yesterday morning with Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys, Mr Entwistle admitted that despite all the furore over the scandal, he had been unaware that Newsnight was going to broadcast the North Wales report.
“I found out about this film after it had gone out,” he said. “In the light of what has happened here I wish this was referred to me, but it wasn’t. I found out about the film the following day.”
An incredulous Mr Humphrys demanded: “So there is no natural curiosity, you wait for somebody to come along to you and say, ‘Excuse me director general, but this is happening and you may be interested’?
“You don’t look for yourself, you don’t do what everybody else in the country does, read newspapers, listen to everything that’s going on and say ‘What’s happening here?”’
The disclosure that he had not known about the Newsnight report was greeted with disbelief by MPs. The chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee John Whittingdale said last night his position had become untenable.