UK & World News
BBC Needs To 'Get A Grip', Says Lord Patten
The BBC needs to "get a grip" to restore trust in the broadcaster after the Newsnight child abuse slur and Jimmy Savile scandal, Lord Patten has said.
His comments follow the resignation of BBC director-general George Entwistle, plunging the BBC into its deepest-ever crisis.
Lord Patten said he would be meeting with Tim Davie, the acting director-general of the BBC, to discuss the future of the flagship programme and its management.
The 68-year-old BBC Trust chairman, who is tasked with restoring public confidence in the corporation, told Sky's Murnaghan programme there were "big issues" that needed to be tackled involving the corporation, including tough managerial decisions.
He admitted the broadcaster had "taken a big hit" and needed to win back the confidence and trust of licence fee payers by ensuring its journalism was of the "highest quality".
"We have got to make changes and we will make changes," Lord Patten said.
"What we now need to do is get a grip on what's happening in the BBC, including the journalism which is at the heart of what we do and what we are about.
"We have to make sure that a very large and complex organisation has a leader who has the right sort of support."
He said his own position would be under scrutiny, adding that if he failed in his job, he was certain people would tell him to "take my cards and clear-off".
Number 10 sources said the crisis at the BBC was "very difficult, very serious", but the corporation needed to "show grit" as it had the capacity to "reform itself".
Mr Entwistle quit after 54 days in the job after a Newsnight report wrongly implicated former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine in an investigation into child abuse allegations at the Bryn Estyn care home in North Wales.
A report on the allegations, which have since been exposed as false, was due to land on Mr Entwistle's desk today.
He said stepping down was the "honourable" thing to do as he had to take responsibility as editor-in-chief of the BBC, for what Lord Patten described as "unacceptable shoddy journalism".
It was the second scandal to hit Newsnight in recent weeks, following the storm over the dropping of its investigation into Jimmy Savile.
Lord Patten, who appointed and appeared alongside Mr Entwistle when he delivered his statement outside New Broadcasting House on Saturday night, said he had done the "honourable and decent thing".
"It was his decision to leave. To be honest, I didn't try to argue him out of it because I think he'd made the right decision," he said.
"George was a very fine broadcaster. It was a tragedy that he was laid low by a lot of the things which he wanted to deal with."
Mr Entwistle's fate was sealed after he was grilled by John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4's Today programme during which he admitted he did not know about the Newsnight investigation until the day after it was broadcast, and had not seen newspaper reports casting doubts on the probe.
Lord Patten said Mr Humphrys' "interrogative" questioning was an example of the BBC trying to "expose the truth - even when it's horrible about itself".
He added it was imperative Mr Entwistle's successor was appointed within "weeks, rather than months".
The Trust chairman later sent an email to BBC staff entitled The Way Ahead, saying the priority was to address the serious questions regarding the botched Newsnight report and Savile abuse scandal.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said Mr Entwistle's resignation was a "regrettable situation, but the right decision".
Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman said his departure was "a great shame" and that he had been "brought low by cowards and incompetents".
Sky's Michelle Clifford said Mr Entwistle "bowed to the inevitable because he had shown himself to be completely in the dark about the fundamental facts of what was going on over the last few weeks".
George Carey, a former editor of the news programme, said the Newsnight brand would "recover" from the two scandals, but added it was paramount the BBC got to the bottom of what happened.
"There is a heart of darkness in this story which is between the editor of Newsnight and George Entwistle, and in there, someone must know why the decisions were taken - both the early decisions relating to Savile and also the McAlpine decisions," he said.