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  • 7 May 2014, 9:25

Seven Trials Of Lord Patten's BBC Trust Tenure

Lord Patten's three years as head of the BBC Trust were some of the most troubled in the corporation's history. Following his departure Sky News takes a look at some of the issues, headlines and crises he had to confront.

1. Newsnight's Savile investigation

Lord Patten had been at the BBC for just over a year when, in October 2012, it emerged a Newsnight investigation into sex abuse by Jimmy Savile was shelved just before broadcast. What followed was described by veteran broadcaster John Simpson as the BBC's "biggest crisis for over 50 years".

Director General George Entwistle was called before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee following revelations Savile abused children on BBC property. A report later found Newsnight's decision to be "flawed", and the programme's editor, Peter Rippon, and deputy editor, Liz Gibbons, were replaced. BBC director of news Steve Mitchell also resigned.

2. Lord McAlpine blunder

George Entwistle, who had been in the Director General's seat just a few months when the Savile calamity came to light, was soon embroiled in another crisis which led to his resignation in November 2012.

Again it concerned Newsnight, which incorrectly implicated Lord McAlpine in a child abuse scandal. There was further controversy when Mr Entwistle was handed a 450,000 severance payment.

3. Executive pay-off row

Mr Entwistle wasn't the only BBC executive to receive a golden handshake during Lord Patten's tenure. The National Audit Office found that in the three years leading to December 2012, the BBC spent 25m on severance payments to 150 high-ranking staff.

HR director Lucy Adams eventually quit her post over the issue after it was alleged by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee the BBC engaged in "cronyism".

4. Complaints over Diamond Jubilee coverage

Reports suggested the BBC received more than 4,500 complaints for its 'informal' coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee River Thames Pageant in June 2012.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and TV personality Stephen Fry were among the critics, the latter describing the broadcast as "mind-numbingly tedious".

5. Expensive technology initiative scrapped

In May 2013 the BBC announced it was scrapping its technology streamlining programme, dubbed the Digital Media Initiative, after it was beset with delays and technical issues. Final costs reached almost 100m.

6. Liberal bias

Accusations of liberal bias prompted the BBC to establish an independent review of its news coverage of religion, immigration and Europe in 2012. Lord Patten admitted there were "real and interesting" concerns from some quarters about impartiality.

The Daily Mail was a leading critic at the time. In the week the review was announced it featured a leader column saying the BBC "consistently attacks Christianity (though never Islam)".

7. Ageism and sexism

In the years before Lord Patten arrived at the BBC, the corporation faced charges of ageism and sexism, with the departure of news presenter Moira Stuart, aged 55, and Strictly Come Dancing's Arlene Phillips, aged 66, prompting questions.

Lord Patten attempted to tackle the issue head on in his first major interview, saying they "should have more women on radio and television".

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