Transcript of Lord Patten being asked about what Mark Thompson knew when

This is the transcript of Philip Davies’ questioning of Lord Patten at the Commons Select Committee on 27 November 2012. Davies’ questions about what Mark Thompson knew when begin at 11.28am, or at 40.20 minutes on this video.

 Davies: For now can I ask you about Mark Thompson, whose praises you were singing when he left the BBC. What do you think of Mark Thompson’s explanation of what he knew about Jimmy Savile and Newsnight and all that kind of stuff, what do you think about his explanation of what he knew and when he knew it?

 Patten: I’ll be better able to comment on that after Pollard has replied.

 Davies: As the Chairman of the BBC trust you have no opinion?

 Patten: The reason why we set up the Pollard inquiry is so that it could ask those questions.

 Davies: Have you not asked those questions? 

Patten: I’m waiting for the Pollard inquiry to report before I comment on the position of those he is interviewing himself. 

Davies: When did you last speak to Mark Thompson about all this? 

Patten: I last spoke to him about a month ago. I went to a lecture that he gave in Oxford on rhetoric. It was before he took his job at the New York Times and we had a brief conversation about the issues surrounding Savile and the enquiries.

 Davies: How many times have you spoken to him about the Savile and Newsnight situation? 

Patten: How many times since when?

 Davies: Well, since you found out about it, you couldn’t talk to him before you found out about it so how many times have you spoken to him since you found out about it? 

Patten: Um, since that occasion I’d only seen him about – 

Davies: (interrupts Patten) There are telephones 

Patten: Yes, but you don’t set up an inquiry, and an expensive inquiry and then bark yourself. 

Davies: Did you not speak to him before you set up the inquiry?

 Patten : (Long pause.) No.

Davies: Why not? 

Patten: Because he was no longer Director General of the BBC. 

Davies: But he was at the time of something that’s a big crisis for the BBC. Did you not think it was worthwhile to speak to someone who was director general at the time? 

Patten: I thought that was probably something that Pollard should do rather than myself

Davies: What do you get paid to do Lord Patten?

Patten: What I get paid to do is to chair the BBC Trust. 

Davies: Quite. 

Patten: And you are probably aware of the responsibilities of the BBC Trust.

Davies: On the um, Mark Thompson for the records, seems to say, as far as I recall, from what I’ve heard, that he’d never heard any allegation about Jimmy Savile whilst he was director general. He left the BBC on the 16th September. On the 6th September, ten days before he left, Mark Thompson got BBC lawyers to write to the Sunday Times to tell them to stop a story alleging that he did know about what had happened and threatened to sue them if they ran the story so what do you make of that? 

Patten: You know perfectly well that I’m not going to reply to questions which are being looked at by nick pollard’s inquiry, you know that perfectly well, so you can go on asking those questions but you’re going to get the same answer. 

Davies: But the point is Lord Patten that it doesn’t relate to you because you said that you didn’t know anything about this until the 28th September I think it was. 

Patten: Yeah the weekend of the –when the Standard broke the story. 

Davies: So this isn’t just about, you can’t just sort of, you know, let the ball go through to the wicket keeper, you actually have to play at some of these, because it affects your role as chairman of the Trust. Were you not aware that – of this letter that Mark Thompson sent to the Sunday times threatening to sue them if they ran a story implicating him in the… 

Patten: (interrupts Davies) No. 

Davies: You didn’t know about that?

Patten: No.

Davies: So on the 17th September ITV sent a letter to the BBC to say that they are going to run a programme about Jimmy Savile. Did you not know- are you happy that Mark ThompsonT did not know anything – he didn’t know anything about the legal letter that was sent of his behalf apparently. You are also happy he didn’t know anything about that… 

Patten: (interrupts Davies) No, I didn’t know about the letter on the 7th September. And I just wonder, as this questioning proceeds, whether you’ve ever read the charter

Davies: The 8th September…

Patten: Sorry but what was the answer to that question? 

Davies: I’m not going to give an answer, I’ve got the charter here, we’ll come back to your role late. As I said I want to know, I’m asking about Mark Thompson at the moment. The 8th September, you, both of you, actually, and Mark Thompson, hosted a party on the last night of the proms. So the day before the BBC had received a letter from ITV to say they were going to run a programme about Jimmy Savile. The day before that, Mark Thompson, the Director General, got lawyers to write to the Sunday Times to tell them to stop a story or else he would sue them. And on the 8th September this was never even, never even mentioned: the Director General didn’t even say to you, ‘By the way we’ve got, you know, there is something that’s happened, I need to have a chat with you about this.’ Nothing at all was mentioned about it? 

Patten: No 

Davies: So he never said, ‘I want to speak to you about anything important’? 

Patten: No

Davies: So what do you think it says about you as the chairman of the Trust, I mean are you seen as some kind of, seen as some kind of patsy for the executive at the BBC, that they think there’s very serious issues coming up and you don’t even need to know about them, as the Chairman of the Trust? 

Patten: If I were you I would renew your acquaintance yourself with the charter 

Davies: I’m trying to get some answers from you Lord Patten 

Patten: I’ve given you answers 

Davies: You didn’t know what was going on…

Patten: I was not told about that letter 

Davies: What do you think about Mark Thompson and his role in all this? Do you not have an opinion?

Patten: I’ll have a more informed opinion after pollard has produced his reportDavies: So is your opinion only going to be the same as Pollard’s?

Pollard: No, my opinion will be coloured by Mr Pollard’s and if it wasn’t going to be what would point of having the Pollard inquiry?

Davies: Apart from to save you from having to answer any difficult questions.

Resignation statement from George Entwistle and statement from Lord Patten

George Entwistle resignation statement: Saturday 10 November 2012 (shortly after 9pm)

“In the light of the fact that the director-general is also the editor-in-chief and ultimately responsible for all content; and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2nd November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director-general.

“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. However, the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader.

“To have been the director-general of the BBC even for a short period, and in the most challenging of circumstances, has been a great honour.

“While there is understandable public concern over a number of issues well covered in the media – which I’m confident will be addressed by the review process – we must not lose sight of the fact that the BBC is full of people of the greatest talent and the highest integrity. That’s what will continue to make it the finest broadcaster in the world.”

Lord Patten statement: Saturday 10 November 2012 (shortly after 9pm)

“This is undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings of my public life. George Entwistle has worked for the BBC for 23 years. He exemplifies the finest values of public service broadcasting.

“At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation and as the editor in chief of that news organisation, George has very honourably offered us his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes, the unacceptable shoddy journalism that has caused so much controversy.”

Click here to download Dimbleby, Entwistle and Patten’s transcript in a Microsoft Word File.

Lucy Manning interview with Peter Fincham – 15 Nov 2012

Lucy Manning interview with Peter Fincham – 15 Nov 2012

LM: What’s your reaction to Ofcom deciding to investigate ITV? It’s very embarrassing isn’t it?

PF: The way that This Morning interviewed PM last Thursday… was misguided and on that day PS issued a statement apologising. We did the same. We launched an investigation straight away which has concluded today, less than a week from the interview… we’ve taken disciplinary action.

LM: You say disciplinary action but PS is still on air today so what sort of disciplinary action.

PF: I can’t discuss in detail what disciplinary action we’ve taken against those involved in the production.  I’ve spoken to PS myself, he realises his mistake, he apologised extremely fully and extremely quickly… he is under no illusions that this is a lapse in ITV journalism.

LM: This is terribly embarrassing for ITV, how could this have happened, MPs are wanting to know?

PF: In live TV all sorts of things can happen, that doesn’t mean they should happen… I’m confident this sort of thing won’t happen again.

LM: No tougher punishments? No suspensions or anything like that?

PF: I can’t discuss the details of the disciplinary action… We think it’s appropriate and have taken this extremely seriously.

LM: Letter from Lord McAlpine

PF: We’ve had a letter from Lord McAlpine today and I will respond to that very quickly. I’ve also had a letter from John Whittingdale and I will respond to that quickly as well.  As you say Ofcom have launched an investigation and we will cooperate fully in that investigation.

LM: And you’re happy that all the steps that should have been taken for that programme were taken? Where was the editor? Where was the production staff? Why was Philip Schofield thrusting this list at the PM?

PF: I’m not happy that this happened. We have editorial processes and checks in place and to be honest with you they weren’t followed so I’m not happy about that but I think that the way we’ve tackled this and responded has been quick and decisive and I’m happy we won’t see something like this again on This Morning or any other ITV programmes.

LM: And PS stays on air?

PF: PS stays on air, yes.

Download Lucy Manning’s interview with Peter Fincham in a Microsoft Word file here

Transcripts: David Dimbleby interview on Today Programme – 12 Nov 2012

JH: This has been talked up as the greatest crisis in the history of the BBC, do you agree?

DD: No, I think that’s hyperbole.  I think that’s unnecessary… Wherever I go people speak with pride and gratitude about what the BBC does. The work that is done by the BBC is unquestioned.  What is has is a crisis of management of its own making.

JH: [But] the trust in which it is held has been damaged hasn’t it?

DD: I think only by this one absurd broadcast by Newsnight implying that Lord McAlpine was involved in the North Wales affair.  I think we wait to hear what happened with the Jimmy Saville case because that’s more complicated – that’s a decision not to run with a story that maybe they felt they hadn’t got enough evidence for… I think it’s been blown up, I can’t understand why the DG resigned…  The fact that he chose to resign, and let’s say he chose to resign and the huge payoff given suggests maybe he didn’t… and not to fight… shows that he wasn’t the right man.  The fact that he didn’t fight back against you on Saturday shows he wasn’t the right man to lead the BBC… If you’re going to be DG you’ve got to fight for the organisation…The fact that we [BBC] do this, a non profit-making organisation paid by the public to serve them and I think that’s what’s being betrayed by the management.  The problem with the BBC is that bureaucracies are self-perpetuating…managers keep adding to management and reducing the actual service that’s given.  Bureaucrats when they are asked to cut back immediately increase the scale of the BBC and its costs immediately increase the number of managers.  The people who suffer are the people who do the real work.  In my opinion it is still over-managed and the management still speak gobble-di-gook.  Any editor or head of a department spends their life filling in forms about things that aren’t really necessary… The trouble is that out of that you don’t get good DGs, you get people who have played the system one against the other…. They don’t have the stomach for what’s needed, for the kind of leadership that’s needed.

JH: Couldn’t you say the BBC is different because of the way it’s funded…?

DD: I believe that good plain speaking is what is needed, not gobble-di-gook…

JH: Do you think he [Chris Patten] should go?

DD: Certainly not.  I think he should reflect on why he chose George to do the job [of DG] and I don’t think he [Patten] should rush in to choose a new DG in 2 or 3 weeks which seems to be the plan at the moment… Patten has a reputation as being a shrewd old bird and a shrewd old bird is what is needed.  For him to go would be absurd, it’s like when the chairman and DG went over the Hutton Inquiry, you can’t lose everybody.  It’s not going to be easy to get this done, but it’s got to be done.

JH: Should we get rid of the board of trustees completely and hand over the governance of the BBC to somebody like Ofcom?

DD: I don’t like the Ofcom idea and I didn’t like the abolition of the governors.  I thought the governors were a perfectly good way of doing it and indeed the Trust is showing itself to be closer to governors now… John Simpson, my colleague, floated the idea of possibly separating editorial control from the management and I think that’s also suspect… the man at the top has to take responsibility for what’s broadcast.  He has to make sure there are systems that alert him to trouble… systems that tell him ‘have you read the Guardian this morning’ and ‘do you see what’s going on on Twitter.’  You’ve got to have an organisation that’s led by a man who ultimately is in charge and who ultimately takes responsibility.

Click here to download Dimbleby, Entwistle and Patten’s transcript in a Microsoft Word File.