BBC needs 'radical overhaul', says Lord Patten
A "thorough, radical, structural overhaul" of the BBC is necessary in the wake of 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.

Lord Patten said the BBC had to ensure programmes were being properly managed.

A new director general would be chosen within weeks, he said.

Lord Patten said talks about the next director general would begin on Sunday, but in the meantime the acting director general, Tim Davie, would be given full support.

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

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, appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, said his own job was to show licence fee-payers "that the BBC has a grip, that we get ourselves back on the road".
News management

Lord Patten: ''If you're saying does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul then absolutely it does''

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, saying: "We've obviously got to consider how, at the moment, it's managed and whether people have got a grip on its content."

Asked if the BBC should look for a stronger role for the head of news, Lord Patten said: "There is a strong argument for that.
Continue reading the main story

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

"I don't think you would ever want a situation in which there wasn't one person who was the boss - primus inter pares. 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.

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.

"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.
Restoring trust

Home Secretary Theresa May said 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. That goes to the heart of what the BBC is about."

She added: "What matters now is how the BBC deals with it, and what the BBC puts in place.... I think the BBC has got a job to do to restore that trust."
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

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.

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. Instead of that it's all over the place."

Media commentator Steve Hewlett said Mr Entwistle had faced some difficult questions.

"Did he really understand that the BBC was facing a very serious crisis because of what happened with Savile and that Newsnight doing another programme about child abuse should have set all the red lights flashing?

"And as editor-in-chief if you don't know, if you're waiting to be told it's happening... it smacked of 'not in command', really."
Last Modified: 2012-11-11 12:22:53
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