DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Patten must take the blame for a sorry saga



00:19 GMT, 21 December 2012

It was a shameless display of sneering arrogance. In his interview on the Radio 4 Today programme yesterday, everyone, according to Lord Patten, was to blame for the BBC’s shortcomings over the Savile and McAlpine scandals but the Trust chairman himself.

The primary target of his scorn was the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which he twice accused of ‘shabby’ behaviour for daring to criticise the 450,000 severance deal – double the legal entitlement – that he authorised to failed Director General George Entwistle.

Incredibly, it did not cross Lord Patten’s mind to apologise for the mistake he made in appointing Mr Entwistle or the BBC’s handling of what the MPs called ‘excessive’ payoffs, with licence fee payers’ money, to ten other managers.

Defence: BBC Trust chair Lord Patten has maintained that the package was a good deal for taxpayers

Defence: BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has maintained that he is not to blame and did not apologise in his interview on Radio 4 Today

Instead, after wailing at the ‘unfairness’ of the MPs, the Tory grandee then lashed out sarcastically at the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph for again daring to highlight the details of Mr Entwistle’s bewildering golden goodbye, which included 10,000 for spin doctors.

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But not only the Press was at fault. Lord Patten then savaged hospitals for not moving as ‘rapidly’ as the BBC to investigate Savile’s attacks on patients.

Really NHS managers would have been able to act far sooner if the BBC had not harboured and promoted a rampant paedophile (who molested young girls on BBC premises) for decades, then dropped a Newsnight investigation into his sickening behaviour a year ago, while airing cloying tribute programmes to the man we now know was a monster.

If Lord Patten had one ounce or self-knowledge or humility, he would resign over his disastrous handling of this squalid saga. After an expensive selection procedure, he appoints the wrong man to be Director General. He parachutes in a successor – a classic BBC insider – without a scintilla of due process.

He endorses a rushed review of the Savile affair and an internal inquiry into the smearing of Lord McAlpine, both of which concluded without anyone being fired.

Twenty years ago, in a genuinely democratic process, the voters of Bath – then a Tory stronghold – ejected Chris Patten as their MP. It is one of the ironies of the British system that, despite having no electoral mandate, Lord Patten now has more power than some ministers.

On the showing of the past three months, it becomes increasingly apparent the voters of Bath were shrewder than they could have guessed.

Will they ever learn

In a bid to stop the banks gambling so recklessly with their customers’ money, George Osborne proposed a ‘firewall’ between their retail arms, which deal with current accounts, and ‘casino’ investment divisions.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne aims to reduce the risks banks take with their customers money with a 'firewall'

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne aims to reduce the risks banks take with their customers money with a 'firewall'

Worryingly, however, the Commission on Banking Standards today warns that the new rules to control Britain’s bankers – many of them currently embroiled in the Libor rate-rigging scandal – ‘fall well short of what is required’ .

What a mess. Will the banks ever understand the damage they caused with their greed And will our politicians and regulators ever find a way of properly controlling them

In Stephen’s memory

In the two decades since the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, his indefatigable mother, Doreen, has never stopped battling to try to create something positive from that awful night in April 1993.

The Mail wishes her every success with next year’s 20th anniversary fund-raising events for her Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which provides support for disadvantaged youngsters. Her fortitude is truly humbling.