Lord Patten, on behalf of the BBC Trust said:
“At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation…. (George) offered us his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes and unacceptable shoddy journalism which had caused so much controversy…. He’s behaved as editor with huge honour and courage…George had set on putting in place a number of changes, which will be required in this great organisation and it’s a tragedy that he was overwhelmed, as we all were to a great extent, by these events….”
Lord Patten has subsequently suggested that there needs to be substantial change and reform of the BBC, and has attacked its top heavy management structures.
The questions posed by the BBC news and current affairs coverage include:
1. Why did they have a long record of failing to offer reasonable air time and fair treatment to Eurosceptics? Why did it take external studies to reveal the shortage of airtime given to critics of the EU, the adverse way they were introduced and treated, and the more frequent interruptions they suffered?
2. Why are critics of global warming theory either ignored or treated as cranks, when there is still serious scientific and economic debate about the causes of climate change, the extent of it and the best way of responding to it?
3. Why does the BBC normally interview people from a left of centre perspective – demanding more expenditure, higher taxes, more government intervention – rather than from a right of centre perspective, asking people why they don’t cut taxes, control spending and reduce the role of government? Shouldn’t a balanced broadcaster do a bit of each?#
4. Why are losses, unusual tax arrangements, financial engineering in the public sector treated more leniently than similar things in the private sector?
5. Why did all the layers of BBC management fail to instill into Newsnight after the Savile crisis the need to investigate thoroughly and present a case with evidence to back it up where there is plenty of evidence, and to cancel an enquiry where there is insufficient evidence?
6. Why, after the failure of the Newsnight team on the Savile issue, did management not require stricter reporting and higher standards for future work?
7. Which managers approved the Macalpine piece? Had anyone on Newsnight read the Waterhouse Report which had looked at these allegations years before? Had they seen the comments on their witness? Why did they fail to put the allegations to the person they were falsely accusing? Why did they tweet out that they would be revaling a top tory paedophile, only not to name one? Why did they not expose again the actions of Labour Clwyd County Council, which was responsible for the children’s home and the social service department in question? Why did they not remind us of the 7 people who were successfuly convicted of crimes in the North Wales abuse tragedy, none of whom were prominent Conservatives?
8. What changes did Mr Entwistle wish to put in place? Why did he not tell the Select Committee or the Today programme about these?
9. If Mr Entwistle “exemplifies the highest sdtandards of public service broadcasting” why did these obvious errors occur on his watch?
10. What is the BBC going to do about its top heavy and clearly ineffective management? Shouldn’t the editors of flagship programmes be responsible for their journalistic output, discussing it with lawyers and others where necessary? Isn’t the only other person who must have a view in difficult cases, the Editor in Chief?
12. Why does Mr Entwistle get such a large pay off when he has done the job for such a short space of time and decided to resign because he did not think he had done or could do the job well enough?
The BBC Trust needs to tell us what value we are getting for the all the expensive layers of management in the BBC. They need to tell us who is responsible for controlling editors whose journalistic standards are not high enough, or who is responsible for appointing them.