Chris Patten is a “busted flush” as chairman of the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s former director-general Greg Dyke has claimed.
Mr Dyke said Lord Patten was “a problem” for the corporation and it would “probably help” if he stood down.
His comments come after what Culture Secretary Maria Miller has described as an “annus horribilis” for the BBC, following criticism of large severance payments to departing staff and the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Mr Dyke, chairman of the Football Association, urged supporters of the BBC to speak up in its defence.
He said Lord Patten’s presence was damaging the corporation, saying that he had mishandled the row over staff payoffs.
“The BBC has a problem in the sense it's got a busted flush as chairman,” he told The Guardian.
“I am surprised [Patten] is still there. It would probably help if he wasn't.”
Mr Dyke, who was director general between 2000 and 2004, described Rupert Murdoch’s media empire as the BBC’s “biggest enemy” but added that it was currently “in disarray”.
Some, particularly on the political right, believe the licence fee should be scrapped and the BBC should become a subscription channel.
Mr Dyke said the public needed to demonstrate their support for the broadcaster with the renewal of the BBC charter and the next licence fee agreement due to be worked out by 2016.
“It's time for those of us who really care about the BBC and who can get a mouthpiece to stand up and say what we value about the BBC,” he said.
“The BBC is very good at regrouping and sustaining itself. In the end it has the support of the country and it always has had.
“That's why [Margaret] Thatcher never took on the BBC – because it has the support of middle England.”
The BBC Trust, Mr Dyke said, was “a disaster waiting to happen and it happened”.
“No one is quite certain who reports to who and who is in charge, and that has to be sorted,” he said. “It seems to me almost certain that the regulation of the BBC will go to Ofcom, and the BBC will have a board with one person who is chairman, working alongside the director general. It will be light-touch regulation, like it is with Channel 4.”
A spokesperson for the BBC Trust dismissed the remarks. “We have heard these types of comments from Greg Dyke before. The trust hasn't commented when he has made them in the past and we don't intend to do so now.”