Page 3 Profile: John Murphys, broadcaster


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The Independent Online

Ah, the man who monstered Entwistle. Is he feeling triumphant?

Not at all. Indeed Radio 4 presenter Humphrys, whose toe-curling mauling live on air of the then-BBC director general George Entwistle last month was widely seen as the final nail in the coffin of the corporation lifer's career there, has described it as "all rather sad". Humphrys even went so far as to put Entwistle's floundering down to an admirable stab at honesty.

"I asked what I hope were perfectly valid questions and he clearly had some difficulty answering them, maybe because he was trying to be entirely truthful," he said, adding pointedly: "Not everybody who sits across the microphone from here is always trying to be truthful and I think he was."

Why bring it up now?

Humphrys was giving his side of the story for the first time yesterday on yet another Radio 4 news programme, Broadcasting House. He insisted he had not set out to humiliate Entwistle, despite the fact he said to him: "You should go, shouldn't you?" as he quizzed him relentlessly about his handling of a series of crises at the BBC, including his response to controversy over the Newsnight programme that wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine in the sex abuse scandal in north Wales.

So Humphrys is off the Entwistle Christmas card list then?

Not necessarily. Entwistle, clearly a good egg, had no opportunity to talk to Humphrys after the interview because the broadcaster was still on air. But he did approach his tormentor to shake his hand, according to Humphrys.

Any lessons learnt?

Apart from a health warning on tuning in to future BBC exercises in self-flagellation on its flagship news programme, maybe the lesson for future BBC DGs is "beware Humphrys". He does have a conscience, though, revealing a few qualms after the interview had finished. "He did look pretty down, I must say," he said yesterday. "It wasn't a happy moment and not just because he was a colleague, which of course he was, and I both like and respect him, but you don't want to see somebody facing that sort of interview."