'Do you want to know my toilet habits?' Lord Patten clashes with MPs over BBC Trust job

 

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten was forced to defend his role amid scathing criticism by MPs today.

Lord Patten became embroiled in a spat with Conservative MP Philip Davies as he was grilled about his job at his appearance at the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Asked by Mr Davies to supply a full itinerary of his daily work for the corporation, the peer refused, saying the question was "impertinent".

Lord Patten had been asked how many days he devoted to his job as chairman of the BBC Trust, saying: "At the moment about eight".

He said he spent three or four days a week on BBC premises, but probably more on BBC work outside that.

Pressed on the point later in the meeting, he was asked for an itinerary of his day by Mr Davies, to which he refused, saying: "I think it's a thoroughly impertinent question".

"I think you're entitled to know how much time I'm spending, I think you're entitled to put down freedom of information requests for how many days I spend in the office, or how many days I spend doing other things.

"But if you think I am going to do a diary for you in order to satisfy some populist pursuit of somebody you didn't want to run an organisation which you don't want to exist, you are kidding yourself.

"Do you want to know my toilet habits? What else do you want to know?"

Mr Davies fought the apparent slapdown, saying: "Given you have been presiding over a shambles at the BBC I think it's perfectly reasonable to say have you been actually putting in the hours, putting in the yard as you should have been as chairman of the BBC Trust."

After declaring other roles that he received remuneration for, Lord Patten said: "I don't have anything else to add."

Mr Davies asked if the peer felt he should take responsibility for the way the BBC's reputation had suffered in the wake of the Jimmy Savile and Newsnight scandal, to which Lord Patten said he thought he should share the responsibility for rebuilding trust in the corporation.

In another apparent put-down, he told the MP: "I am not sure that this Socratic dialogue with you is getting us very far."

But refusing to back down, Mr Davies pressed Lord Patten on the appointment of George Entwistle, saying: "Do you take responsibility for spending a fortune recruiting somebody who was already under your nose then spending a fortune getting rid of him?"

Earlier in the hearing, the men sparred when Lord Patten denied that he had chosen to go on Andrew Marr's show on the weekend of Mr Entwistle's resignation because he wanted an "easier ride" than he would have got with broadcaster Andrew Neil, saying he chose the programme with the "larger audience".

He was accused by Mr Davies of not probing former director-general Mark Thompson enough about the Newsnight decision to drop its programme on Savile.

"Did you not think it was worthwhile to speak to someone who was director-general at the time?" Mr Davies said.

"I'm not going to reply to questions that are being looked at in the Pollard inquiry," Lord Patten said.

"What do you think it says about you? Are you seen as some kind of patsy for the executive of the BBC?... You didn't know what was going on?" said Mr Davies.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent