Video: Pressure on Patten to quit as Entwistle gets £1.32m pay-off
Published 12/11/2012 | 05:00
THE chairman of the BBC Trust Chris Patten came under increasing pressure last night as it emerged he approved a £1.32m (€1.6m) pay-off for George Entwistle, the former director general.
Mr Entwistle, who resigned on Saturday night after just 54 days in the job, leaves with a £450,000 (€565,000) lump sum on top of his £877,000 (€1.97m) pension pot, which was described as "unjustifiable and unacceptable" by one senior MP.
The BBC Trust said Mr Entwistle had been given a year's salary to "reflect the fact that he will continue to help the BBC business" by giving evidence to a series of inquiries into the Savile affair and "to effect a speedy resolution and allow the BBC to move on".
John Whittingdale, the chairman of the parliament's culture, media and sport select committee, said licence fee payers would be "surprised" that he was being given so much money after such a short tenure, while Philip Davies MP, who also sits on the committee, said it was "yet another reason" Mr Patten should resign.
Mr Entwistle quit after 'Newsnight' was forced to issue an "unreserved" apology to Lord McAlpine after it broadcast a report wrongly accusing a senior Conservative of paedophilia, which led to Lord McAlpine being named online.
Mr Patten admitted yesterday that the very existence of 'Newsnight', which was already in crisis after it cancelled a film last year which would have exposed Jimmy Savile as a paedophile, was now open to question.
Up to six senior executives are expected to follow Mr Entwistle out the door once the findings of a series of internal reviews are published.
One MP suggested that only a "clear out" of senior management would restore the public's trust in the corporation.
David Dimbleby, the 'Question Time' host, said the Trust must appoint an outsider who is not "pickled in the culture" of bureaucracy that has "throttled" the BBC in recent years.
Mr Patten insisted that he would not be resigning. "I am not going to take my marching orders from Mr Murdoch's newspapers. I think there are big issues which need to be tackled involving the BBC and . . . that's what I want to give my attention to," he said. But Mr Davies suggested Mr Patten's position had become "untenable".
"He has been asleep at the wheel while he has been doing the job, he spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence fee money appointing George Entwistle and 54 days later he is gone.
"The fact he has approved a £450,000 pay-off for him means his position has become farcical. If I walk away from my job I get nothing. This pay-off is totally unjustifiable, it's unacceptable, it's extraordinary and I suspect it's been done to save Lord Patten's bacon."
Downing Street said Mr Patten retained the support of the prime minister, but that position is likely to change if he is criticised by any of the three BBC internal inquiries due to report back in December on Savile and sexual harassment. (© Daily Telegraph, London)