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BBC needs overhaul after sex abuse crisis, Trust head Chris Patten says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 7:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am
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The chairman of the BBC Trust said on Sunday that the British broadcaster was in need of a major overhaul following the crisis over its child sex abuse report that led to the resignation of its director-general.

“If you’re saying, does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul, then absolutely it does. And that’s what we’ll have to do,” Chris Patten, who heads the BBC’s governing body, said in a television interview.

He was speaking after the dramatic resignation of director-general George Entwistle on Saturday, following a crisis over a programme which wrongly implicated a former Conservative politician in sex abuse at a children’s home in the 1970s.

Patten said the “tragedy” of situation was he had appointed Entwistle to push through reform of the sprawling organisation.

In the BBC interview, Patten recalled that when he took the job as chairman of the BBC Trust in April he joked that “there were “more senior leaders in the BBC than there were in the Chinese Communist Party”.

“When George said that we had to get away from the silos in the BBC, get away from the infighting, be much more self-critical, devolve decisions far more both for money and for editorial decisions, he was absolutely spot on,” Patten said.

“And the tragedy is that two weeks after he set himself to start doing those things he was overwhlemed by a crisis which was partly caused by some of those things.”

Entwistle only took the top job in September, and within days he was battling a major crisis caused by allegations that the late television and radio presenter Jimmy Savile, once one of the BBC’s biggest stars, was a serial child abuser.

He was then embroiled in a new crisis surrounding a report last week by the flagship Newsnight programme implicating a former politician in child abuse, which subsequently turned out to be wrong.