Labour and Tory MPs call for BBC’s Chris Patten to go


by Sunny Hundal    
8:45 am - November 11th 2012

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If it was right for the director general of the BBC to resign, for that botched Newsnight investigation, what about the chair of the BBC Trust who hired him? What about his judgement?

Not long after George Entwistle resigned last night, MPs from across the political spectrum were calling for Lord Chris Patten to resign too.

John Mann is a member of the Treasury Select Committee.

They weren’t alone either.

In an interview with Sky News, the former culture minister and journalist Ben Bradshaw said last night that Chris Patten had a lot of questions to answer. He also said that Entwistle had been “hung out to dry”.

Chris Patten will be on the Andrew Marr show this morning at 9am.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


George Entwistle did nothing wrong and should not have resigned.

BBC’s critics are scum.

2. Dick the Prick

How on earth any journalist can mistakenly accuse someone of paedophilia is truly beyond understanding. There’s a story in the Mail that the guy making the allegations was branded an unsafe witness 20 years ago. It truly beggars belief that this was allowed, seemingly without giving the politician any right of reply. This is bushleague, amateurish, disgraceful and amazingly inept. Obviously, Entwistle wasn’t directly responsible but ffs, it really doesn’t get much worse.

McAlpine in his statement claims that he is not “the senior Conservative Party figure from the days of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership who is guilty of sexually abusing young residents of a children’s home in Wrexham, North Wales in the 1970′s and 1980′s.

An interesting choice of phrasing. He should tell us what he knows.

@2 Neither Newsnight nor Messham named McAlpine, most of the internet rumours were based on an old Scallywag magazine investigation into the North Wales abuses case.

5. Dick the Prick

@4 – quite right, it didn’t name him but it was all based on him; the name was almost irrelevant.

Ben Bradshaw’s assessment resonates most with me:

George Entwistle has been badly let down:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20285282

The BBC needs to focus on the line management responsible for authorising that programme on the unnamed Tory paedophile supposedly operating at that care home in Clwyd in North Wales.

The programme was transparently reminiscent of the style of the late Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, who would claim to have lists in his pocket of the names of dozens of Communists and Communist sympathisers working in the US State Department, and of ways that the Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities went about its business of demanding from those summoned before it to name names..

@4. Cylux: “Neither Newsnight nor Messham named McAlpine, most of the internet rumours were based on an old Scallywag magazine investigation into the North Wales abuses case.”

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Steve Messham heard the name McAlpine in reference to one of his abusers* and concluded that it was Alistair McAlpine. McAlpine is not a common name but there are lots of McAlpines in one family which ran a large construction business and from which many members belong/ed to the Conservative Party.

When I first read the McAlpine accusations (in blogs), my instinctive question was “which McAlpine?”. Had I been a journalist researching the story — for Scallywag or Newsnight — I’d have known that there was more than one McAlpine associated with the Conservative Party. I’d have understood that the identification was weak and needed to be substantiated. I do not have super-investigatory ability, but my immediate conclusion was “well, there’s a possible misidentification”.

As a consequence of bad reporting and ill founded internet rumours, we may never know whether somebody associated with the McAlpine family (not necessarily a member, perhaps a bag runner) is guilty of abuse.

* I accept that Steve Messham is an unreliable witness but believe that he was abused whilst “in care”.

@7

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Steve Messham heard the name McAlpine in reference to one of his abusers* and concluded that it was Alistair McAlpine. McAlpine is not a common name but there are lots of McAlpines in one family which ran a large construction business and from which many members belong/ed to the Conservative Party.

Steve Messham’s apology was thus: “After seeing a picture in the past hour of the individual concerned, this is not the person I identified by photograph presented to me by the police in the early 1990s, who told me the man in the photograph was Lord McAlpine.”
Which of course raises the question as to why the police claimed it was a picture of Lord McAlpine.

Also, Chris Patten must stay and there should be no reform of any kind at the BBC. This is now about the BBC against its enemies and we need to stand with the corporation uncritically and without reservation.

@Bob B:

“George Entwistle has been badly let down:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20285282

I, too, fear that George Entwistle is being used as a scape goat. Entwistle was appointed to the job because he had work history as a broadcaster and editor. His final job lasted 54 days, which means that he was trying to run almost the same BBC organisation that existed when the Savile/institutional-disregard-for-child-abuse stories erupted. Generously including the transition period during which Mark Thomson stood down, Entwistle was given five months to change the BBC.

George Entwistle is not a politician. If the job of BBC Director-General is to combat John Humphrys in a radio interview, on which his ability appears to be judged, then he was the wrong man. If the job of BBC Director-General is to oversee editorial decisions, he wasn’t given the chance.

Regarding the Newsnight/McAlpine broadcast, Entwistle failed. He failed to instruct editors that, for a while, sensitive stories required higher approval until the BBC changed. However editors chose to use their independence to broadcast a weak story. The McAlpine Newsnight story was bravado: “we know how to do journalism”. It may have been journalism but it wasn’t responsible journalism.

I dunno about Chris Patten. He is not a BBC executive. The only question that I can see is why he backed a broadcaster as Director-General rather than a politician ;-)

I send my best wishes to George Entwistle, another victim of hysteria and knee jerkism in public debate.

Did the abuse victim not think to look up a picture of Lord McAlpine in all this time?

As for Tom Watson? He’s really messed up there.
Serves him right really. He does come across as a bit full of himself.

@8. Cylux: “Which of course raises the question as to why the police claimed it was a picture of Lord McAlpine.”

I acknowledge your scepticism about police conduct, Cylux.

But everything that we have learned from the press over the last two months — reinforcing what we have heard for donkey’s years — is that abuse allegations must be recorded and taken seriously by those charged to investigate them. And by friends, teachers etc.

The teen grooming cases recently exposed in Lancashire/Yorkshire/Manchester would have been identified more quickly if police and social services employees had been doing their job by listening to the young people that they are expected to protect. That was two agencies — social services and police, occasionally inimical bodies — in three counties. Two agencies multiplied by three counties == six agencies with overlapping jurisdiction and territory (eg West Yorks child in Manchester “care home”). Nobody took the young people seriously.

Cylux: “Which of course raises the question as to why the police claimed it was a picture of Lord McAlpine.”

The benign and credible interpretion is that the Police were deliberately trying to trip Steve Messham up.

Recall the lobbying in recent years by teachers’ organisations for anonymity for school teachers accused of abuse. Their claim is – and I’ve no means of judging the truth of it – that teachers are often maliciously and mendaciously accused of abuse.

There is a long history of reports of abuse of the residents of care homes by paedophiles – my recollection goes back to reports in the late 1980s in the London Evening Standard by an undercover reporter of paedophile abuse in a care home managed by the London borough of Islington.

The Police are doubtless aware of all this and exercise a degree of cautious scepticism about complaints by care home residents. The Police are almost certainly aware that past residents of care homes are over represented in the prison population.

Readers may also recall the epidemic of Satanic Abuse which fell upon Britain in the late 1980s and early 1990s, culminating in a public inquiry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_child_abuse_scandal

Cleveland was not the only place afflicted – try the accounts on the web of: “Orkney child sex abuse scandal”.

Extensive police inquiries followed these tales of rampant Satanism but no prosecutions of the reportedly multiple and widely distributed Satanists as the police were unable to uncover evidence that they believed could stand up in court.

@11. damon:

“Did the abuse victim not think to look up a picture of Lord McAlpine in all this time?”

I don’t think it is appropriate to challenge Steve Messham, a vulnerable man, for his mistake. I don’t know whether a survivor of child abuse would look on the internet for a photo of the abuser. I just acknowledge vulnerability.

It is contemptible that “journalists” continue to abuse Steve Messham in order to get a story.

@13. Bob B:

“Police are almost certainly aware that past residents of care homes are over represented in the prison population.”

I think that I can count the cognitive biases in that sentence on one hand. But I’ve got six fingers.

@13. Bob B:

“The Police are doubtless aware of all this and exercise a degree of cautious scepticism about complaints by care home residents.”

I’m not trying to score points with this comment. I’m not trying to be funny.

I acknowledge that some people who have come through the “care home” system or foster caring or something like it are disgruntled individuals.

If they have a complaint, it is necessary to listen to their tales.

Charlieman:

Many aspects of the world are not as we would wish. Look at the (truly dreadful) stats about care home residents:

When they leave primary school, 43% of children in care will have reached the national curriculum test level expected for their age – compared with 74% of all children. Almost one third of children in care leave school with no GCSEs or vocational tests like GNVQs. etc etc

27% of the adult prison population has been in care and almost 40% of prisoners under 21 were in care as children (only 2% of the general population spend time in prison). A quarter of young women leaving care are pregnant or already mothers, and nearly half become mothers by the age of 24.
http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/the-statistics.html

Children, whether in care not, deserve to be listened to but school teachers are saying many of the allegations by their pupils about abuse by teachers are fabricated and malicious. It turned out that at least some of the horrifyingly graphic claims about Satanic abuse were later admitted to be fantasies.

OTOH members of gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham and Derby, which have been successfully prosecuted, and convicted and then sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, had all been targeting under-age girls in care homes, presumably because the gangs all saw them as soft targets.

When presented with complaints by children and young people about abuse, the Police have an especially challenging task in sifting likely fact from fantasy from malice.

My main recent complaints about the BBC are:

(a) Newsnight adopted a well-documented McCarthy technique for its report about the Clwyd care home and this was authorised or cleared by a string of line managers;

(b) it promoted JS to celebrity status and wealth as a DJ, despite evidence that he attracted groupies as well as wide reporting that sex and drugs were rife on the pop music scene. There was no internet in the 1960s and 1970s so how else would I have come to learn the infamous urban myth about Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful and the Mars Bar?

I’ve no TV licence and gave up watching TV even before paying for the licence. Since then, I’ve been subject to occasional bouts of hounding by the licencing folk as well as some pestering by Sky or its agents – when I wouldn’t be watching Sky even if I had a licence.

The fact is that BBC has given up making the programmes I want to watch – like a few BBC2 documentaries, which usually get posted to YouTube. For various reasons – mainly, I suspect, to find jobs for the boys and girls – the BBC has created too many TV and radio channels, supposedly to cater for every audience niche going when many niches would be readily filled by commercial interests. The BBC’s resources are spread too thinly between channels. Besides that it is paying absurdly high celebrity fees to be able to afford to make the kind of well-reviewed drama programmes it used to make.

Whatever else, two events will stay in my mind: (1) the resignation of Greg Dyke, as BBC DG, in the aftermath of an interview of Andrew Gilligan on the BBCR4 Today programme in March 2003 when he remarked on the government’s motivation for the sexing up of the government’s infamous dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction; (2) why it took a Channel 4 programme in September 2010 to research, document and report on the conviction of 37 Catholic priests for paedophile abuse. Could that be because Mark Thompson, the previous BBC DG, is a Catholic?

@17. Bob B:

“Many aspects of the world are not as we would wish. Look at the (truly dreadful) stats about care home residents”.

No, I will not look at those stats. It is not that they are true, but that I am ashamed to look.

While we’re at it, can we demand the resignation of David Mellor from whatever sub-species of humanity he currently inhabits?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/nov/11/david-mellor-steve-messham-weirdo

Once a frontbottom, always a frontbottom…

Starting from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/nov/11/lord-patten-bbc-radical-overhaul, it is evident that Chris Patten has lost the plot.

“The chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, has said George Entwistle’s replacement will be appointed within weeks rather than months and revealed that he will discuss the future of Newsnight with the acting director general before the end of the day.”

It took a few months for Newsnight producers to fuck up the business but Chris Patten, formerly recognised as a sane head, is determined to achieve it in days. Quick appointments for a serious job: fuck off, mate, if you are serious about running the BBC or any large organisation.

“Patten admitted there was a case for splitting the director general job’s executive and editor-in-chief responsibilities, and said the BBC needed a “radical structural overhaul”"

Having given the previous (sacked) Director-General 54 days to do his job, Patten will re-organise the business. So the new geezer with 53 days will work miracles.

“Patten told Sky News he would be talking to Tim Davie, the acting director general, on Sunday about the future of Newsnight, but said whatever the fate of the BBC2 current affairs programme “what should survive is investigative journalism” at the corporation.”

That’s nice. What is the news breaker?

“Earlier on Sunday Patten said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that it was a “rather quick judgment” to say that Newsnight was, in the words of its presenter Eddie Mair, “toast”. However, he pointedly avoided saying the show would continue in its current form with its existing name.”

The editorial content of Newsnight is not Patten’s business. Patten is not an editor. Piss off Patten.

“”It would be very sad if we were to give up that evening slot which has done some terrific investigative journalism over the years not least when George was the editor,” he told Marr.”

“evening slot”? The programme starts around about half past ten, you clueless tosser.

And Patten, as a non-editorial person, presumes to intervene.

“He said the BBC Trust would immediately begin work on finding a permanent successor to Entwistle. Patten told Marr there would not be the sort of lengthy appointment process that led to Entwistle’s appointment in the summer. “It’s got to be a few weeks rather than a lot of months,” he said.”

Patten says that this will be a rushed appointment in order to get the hounds off the BBC’s back.

A “permanent successor” is sought. Contradiction?

“Patten said there may be a “strong argument” for splitting the job of director general and editor-in-chief, currently combined in a single role. “There is a case for that,” he said. “I don’t think we would ever want a case where there wasn’t one person who was boss, but we do need to look at the relationship between director general [and] editorial and creative. Anyone but an archangel needs strong support in those areas.

“But we’ve obviously got to consider how at the moment it is managed and if people have got a grip on its content.”"

Yes. I suppose that when an organisation has been broadcasting for 80 years, it might get stuck in the mud. It is incredible that an organisation like the BBC, with a highly profitable BBC Worldwide franchise, ignores editors and producers who produce programmes that are viewed internationally.

Does Chris Patten have a clue about who, in the UK and across the world, enjoys the BBC? Until he has a clue, he should shut up.

I gave up contradicting Chris Patten with 10 paragraphs to go. Does anyone wish to finish it?

In an interview with Sky News, the former culture minister and journalist Ben Bradshaw said last night that Chris Patten had a lot of questions to answer. He also said that Entwistle had been “hung out to dry”.

Because, of course, Sky News is an impartial organisation with no axe to grind here.

File under: Sunny’s continual war on public broadcasting.

Children, whether in care not, deserve to be listened to but school teachers are saying many of the allegations by their pupils about abuse by teachers are fabricated and malicious. It turned out that at least some of the horrifyingly graphic claims about Satanic abuse were later admitted to be fantasies.

All of the claims about Satanic abuse were debunked. It was a myth pushed by an unholy alliance of Christian fundamentalists, psychoanalysists and pseudo-feminists like Green party member Bea Campbell – who has published her drivel on this very site.

23. So Much for Subtlety

6. Bob B

George Entwistle has been badly let down:

Entwistile was in charge. These days it is rare for anyone in public service to ever be held accountable for anything. So it is quite a good thing that for once someone is. It was shoddy journalism. Appalling really. Someone needs to be fired. More than one. Preferably all the way down to the producer of the show. The DG is a good place to start.

The programme was transparently reminiscent of the style of the late Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, who would claim to have lists in his pocket of the names of dozens of Communists and Communist sympathisers working in the US State Department, and of ways that the Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities went about its business of demanding from those summoned before it to name names..

Indeed. Except there were Communists in the US government. A lot of them.

Shatterface

“All of the claims about Satanic abuse were debunked. It was a myth pushed by an unholy alliance of Christian fundamentalists, psychoanalysists and pseudo-feminists like Green party member Bea Campbell – who has published her drivel on this very site.”

The epidemic of Satanic Abuse had hardly abated when it when it was closely followed by an epidemic of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy – there are references on the web for any who don’t know what it is.

As the epidemic unfolded, we learned that Sir Roy Meadow, the discoverer of the Syndrome – he was knighted on the advice of TB – was collecting £7,000 a time as an expert witness in trials where mothers were being prosecuted for abusing their siblings. A professional colleague of Sir Roy was even able to tell that a father was guilty of murdering a sibling just from watching an interview of the father on TV. Such is the progress of medical science.

25. So Much for Subtlety

17. Bob B

(2) why it took a Channel 4 programme in September 2010 to research, document and report on the conviction of 37 Catholic priests for paedophile abuse. Could that be because Mark Thompson, the previous BBC DG, is a Catholic?

Bob’s a national treasure isn’t he? He writes a long post on the past history of false accusations, on the gross miscarriage of justice that was the Satanic Abuse scare, on why the police have perfectly reasonable suspicions of children who have been in Care, how the teachers are forced to demand anonymity to protect themselves from malicious allegations … and then he goes back to his monomaniacal obsession with the Catholic Church.

Sure, everyone else may be the victims of false allegations, but not priests. Yes, in a thread where everyone, even Bob, condemns the BBC for going to air too fast with too little evidence, Bob condemns the BBC for not going to air fast enough with little evidence at all. Because it is different when the Left Footers do it or something.

Well done Bob.

For more illumination on BBC management, try this:

Q&A: Is there a structural problem at BBC news?
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a18c4ff2-2c2a-11e2-8582-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Bx66c1ZH

27. So Much for Subtlety

24. Bob B

As the epidemic unfolded, we learned that Sir Roy Meadow, the discoverer of the Syndrome – he was knighted on the advice of TB – was collecting £7,000 a time as an expert witness in trials where mothers were being prosecuted for abusing their siblings.

Probably not their siblings Bob.

And of course the same coalition of people hate the Catholic Church. So to the same “unholy alliance of Christian fundamentalists, psychoanalysists and pseudo-feminists like Green [and former Communist] party member Bea Campbell” add Bob’s name. Consistency is hard to achieve isn’t it Bob?

SMFS: “and then he goes back to his monomaniacal obsession with the Catholic Church. etc etc.”

The Channel 4 programme in September 2010 researched, documented and reported the convictions of 37 Catholic priests who had been sentenced to a year or more in prison for child abuse as the result of cases prosecuted in court:

“Channel 4 News has compiled the first map of Catholic abuse detailing some 37 cases across England and Wales where Catholic priests have committed sexual offences against children.”
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/world/catholic%2Babuse%2Bin%2Bengland%2Band%2Bwales%2Brevealed/3767082.html

There was no reporting of rumours about sinful priests or making dark hints about lists of suspects. The Channel 4 programme was entierely upfront reporting about actual court cases where the accused priests had been found guilty and were duly sentenced.

29. So Much for Subtlety

28. Bob B

The Channel 4 programme in September 2010 researched, documented and reported the convictions of 37 Catholic priests who had been sentenced to a year or more in prison for child abuse as the result of cases prosecuted in court:

That’s not the point Bob. The point is about your insinuations about the BBC not getting in earlier. To which you put down to a vast Catholic conspiracy at the heart of the Beeb. Which is, at least, amusing.

37 priests Bob? Outrage. The interesting this is that this case has brought the long-forgotten Bryn Estyn case to light. The inquiry in to that found 28 abusers. One secular State-run facility. Almost as many as in the Catholic Church over the entire country over decades. Yet Bob is fixated on Catholics. He doesn’t want Care facilities banned. Just the Catholic Church.

SMFS: “Yet Bob is fixated on Catholics. He doesn’t want Care facilities banned. Just the Catholic Church.”

As best I can tell, most secular paedophile abusers don’t go around in clerical garb pretending to have Holy intentions.

31. So Much for Subtlety

30. Bob B

As best I can tell, most secular paedophile abusers don’t go around in clerical garb pretending to have Holy intentions.

So it is the fancy dress that offends you? Not the, you know, actual child abuse. How interesting.

However I think we can conclude from this you have not met many social workers or their supporters. Or read their in house paper the Guardian.

31 SMFS: “So it is the fancy dress that offends you? Not the, you know, actual child abuse. How interesting.”

What offends me is the Catholic priests using their clerical garb and their pretentions about a Holy mission to con their victims. By the evidence of the dozens of convictions in Britain and reports of the scale of abuse by Catholic priests in other countries, they seem to have been especially effective at that, perhaps because of their clerical training.

We can draw instructive lessons. As for the BBC, the previous DG is a Catholic as is the current chairman of the BBC trust. I think we can take it that is why the BBC wasn’t doing much investigative journalism about the Catholic church – unlike that Channel 4 programme, mention of which so upsets you.

“However I think we can conclude from this you have not met many social workers or their supporters. Or read their in house paper the Guardian.”

On the contrary, I’ve met quite a few professional social workers at one time or another but they have all been women and none worked in care homes.

News update on Monday morning:

Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, has announced a national inquiry to investigate claims of child sex abuse. The move follows allegations from a senior police officer that the Roman Catholic Church had attempted to conceal evidence of paedophile priests in New South Wales.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8185e002-2cbf-11e2-9211-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2C16v5uWq

34. Churm Rincewind

@ 23: SFMS – The programme was transparently reminiscent of the style of the late Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, who would claim to have lists in his pocket of the names of dozens of Communists and Communist sympathisers working in the US State Department, and of ways that the Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities went about its business of demanding from those summoned before it to name names..

Indeed. Except there were Communists in the US government. A lot of them.”

I’m unable to trace any evidence for your assertion, and would be grateful for a note of your sources.

35. Churm Rincewind

@23: SFMS

The programme was transparently reminiscent of the style of the late Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, who would claim to have lists in his pocket of the names of dozens of Communists and Communist sympathisers working in the US State Department, and of ways that the Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities went about its business of demanding from those summoned before it to name names..

Indeed. Except there were Communists in the US government. A lot of them.”

I’m unable to trace any evidence for your assertion. Could you post details of your source?

36. Chaise Guevara

@ 35 Churm

“I’m unable to trace any evidence for your assertion. Could you post details of your source?”

SMFS’s definition of words like “Communist” and “Marxist” is somewhat more flexible than it is for most of us.

“All of the claims about Satanic abuse were debunked. It was a myth pushed by an unholy alliance of Christian fundamentalists, psychoanalysists and pseudo-feminists like Green party member Bea Campbell – who has published her drivel on this very site.”
I agree but the original Wicker man was scary.

Conspiracy 1
On purpose BBC messes up North Wales case by going after the wrong man. To help the governmenmt who pulls the purse strings.
It let certain politicians off the hook.
Channel 4 did a much better job when they reported the case.
Furore about incompetent broadcasters not the victims.
Job done.


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