Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Is the BBC approaching a tipping point?

Messenger: along the same lines, I find it fascinating to read that Peter Rippon is negotiating with the BBC about a change of position. I don't have time to read the report but here's my surmise: in any honest organisation Rippon would have been sacked. But they can't sack him because he knows who put pressure on him to shelve the programme. That's why negotiations continue. And that's why I still feel Martin's original gut feel was right. Somewhere the fault lines will give.

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Watching Patten being questioned shows not only that "he does not get it" but that he does not want to have to bother with it. Patten behaves as if all this is far too mundane for someone of his stature to get involved with.
Patten's excuse for paying off Entwistle is pathetic; sacking him would have been more expensive but it would have been more just. Patten claiming that he cares about spending taxpayers money is beyond a joke after 28gate.

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:57 PM | Registered CommenterDung

When I heard Patten say "We accept the Pollard report in full" I felt something else - that he was going to use it to justify radical surgery to the BBC, of the kind Entwistle had planned and more. Now when I say that, what happens may not be be seen as radical by Martin A, whose view I particularly appreciate. But it will feel like a bloodbath to the poor dears in the firing line - the mediocre bureaucrats that Jeremy Paxman also despises. And this will in itself help to bring more balance to the BBC's climate coverage.

Half a loaf is better than none and all that. And I know how popular that view will be with the hardliners, even as I write it. :)

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

There was pressure on Pater Rippon to shelve the report, as his emails to Liz MacKean show clearly. The most obvious explanations for this pressure were a desire to cover up past wrongdoing in the BBC and protect guilty parties still involved at the corporation.(...)
Dec 19, 2012 at 1:11 PM Richard Drake

It seems pretty clear to me that the immediate pressure on Rippon came from his boss Stephen Mitchell, the deputy director of BBC News. I'd surmise that he'd have let Rippon understand that the pressure had originated higher up the food chain.

The BBC's Managed Risk Programmes List ("MRPL") is a list of future programmes involving risks, including damage to the BBC's reputation.

Mitchel removed the Newsnight Savile investigation from the MRPL risk list, which in part, resulted in subsequent events - tribute programmes and so on. He could not explain to the Pollard enquiry why he had removed it from the MRPL and Pollard was scathing about his inability to explain.

"It is clear that Mr Mitchell's decision to remove the Savile story from the MRPL is critical and it was important to establish why he had done this. Very unfortunately, he could offer no convincing reason."

"Mr Mitchell's decision to remove the Savile programme from the MRPL was a serious mistake on his part, for which he has not been able to any credible explanation. I can only conclude that he did so because of a misconceived notion that the programme was potentially so sensitive that it should not appear on the list."

[Or... (Martin A hypothesis): He had already, by then, decided that he would ensure the programme never saw the light of day so the less visibility, the better.]

Pollard speculated that it was because the risk was so high, Mitchel thought it needed to be handled outside the system. (If so, as often happens when someone tried to bypass an existing process in an organisation, the result was the opposite of what they may have intended. In this case that the programme was not recognised as carrying risks.)

Rippon himself seems to have been simply awful as a manager. Expressing positive enthusiasm shortly before apparently changing his mind overnight.. And cancelling it without himself watching the interviews and giving no real explanation to the people involved.

His inability to recall things, too, earned some scathing comments from Pollard. He may well have been breathed on - but if so, he certainly was not letting on.

"The inability of both Mr Rippon and Mr Mitchell to provide any recollection of whether they did or did not speak and, if so, what was said, was frustrating".

Rippon was also responsible for the disinformation (in plainer language lies)posted on the BBC blog about why the Newsnight was cancelled.

The Pollard report makes two things clear:

- BBC management knew what Savile had been up to - it was not simply a matter of unsubstantiated rumour.

- The inability of the BBC to sort things out even months after the Newsnight cancellation shows that the management, despite its numerous extremely well-paid members, is dysfunctional.

Dec 20, 2012 at 8:58 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


I wish I had your confidence that the changes Patten makes will be "for the best", to me Patten is worse than the people in the firing line and unlikely to put in place people with the integrity that is badly needed.

Martin A

Pollard's report was yet another whitewash. When you consider the timescale involved, how can any person of even vague intelligence believe:

"The inability of both Mr Rippon and Mr Mitchell to provide any recollection of whether they did or did not speak and, if so, what was said, was frustrating".

two senior managers could remember nothing of what they said a couple of weeks earlier?
Richard is right to say that Patten just wanted us to accept the report and "move along, nothing to see".

Dec 20, 2012 at 9:44 PM | Registered CommenterDung


The pdf I downloaded does not seem to include the appendixes - not even Appendix 1 which gives Pollard's terms of reference, without which it's difficult to say if it's a whitewash or not. Maybe BitBucket can track them down.

"The inability of both Mr Rippon and Mr Mitchell to provide any recollection of whether they did or did not speak and, if so, what was said, was frustrating".

I think that is polite/diplomatic/Pollard-speak for:

"The bastards told me they had no recollection of what would had been, for them, a key discussion only a few weeks previously - they said that they could not even recall whether or not the discussion took place. What more can I say? They were quite obviously lying through their teeth but they were not under oath and I had no way of compelling them to tell the truth."

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:32 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Dung: best not to put subjects in my mouth if we are to remain on the brilliant terms of the last few months. I didn't make Patten the subject when I talked about those determined to say "move along, there is nothing to see" in the whole of the Savile cesspit. Patten coined that latter phrase and nobody I was thinking of trying to cover up these crimes would have done so. There are many levels of problem with the BBC and Patten hasn't yet failed to make a positive impact. I'd give him a year from now for that.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Martin: brilliant analysis and conjecture - I agree with every word (such agreement made easier by the fact I'm not likely to read the report for a little bit!)

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:56 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


Apologies if in the white heat of the technological discussions of BH I wrongly attributed a statement to you that you did not make.
Brilliant terms? hahaha you do have a sense of humour after all ^.^. Straight after trashing me on the main blog as well hehe

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:05 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Martin A

Spitting feathers I have to agree with Richard's assessment of your summary but if Pollard really did think what you suggested do you not think that somehow his report should have been a little more harsh?

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, without knowing what Pollard's terms of reference were (the BBC published his report stripped of its appendixes), it's hard to judge whether or not he should have been more harsh.

When people "could not remember" or "could not provide an explanation" he seems to me to have come to his own conclusion on the most likely thing. I'm imagining that he wrote his report on the basis of the information he had and, where information was lacking, on what seemed to him the most likely thing.

My impression is that he's done a professional job. He has not (in contract to the climategate whitewashes) omitted to ask relevant questions. He probably felt great contempt for some of the responses but I don't think he allowed this to change his conclusions.

Although you and I probably find Pollard's report anodyne compared with what we might have written, I think it is far more harsh than most documents that criticise large organisations.

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:49 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Apologies if in the white heat of the technological discussions of BH I wrongly attributed a statement to you that you did not make.

It's a mistake that anyone could make and that you frequently do, so apologies in the plural are a particularly nice touch! And accepted

Dec 21, 2012 at 8:15 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The BBC now has as its top story Wales child abuse: Operation Pallial inquiry finds evidence of 140 claims - with 76 new people making such claims and the dates of the alleged offences ranging from 1963, much earlier than previously thought, and in 18 care homes, much more than previously thought.

I don't personally think it possible that 76 people could be making this up with the police going meekly along with the story. This is the kind of thing Steve Messham was trying to warn us about. And that sobering thought must among other things force re-evaluation of the BBC's role here.

The Beeb's home affairs man Mark Easton comments: "The scale of the investigation is quite a surprise." I can't say it is to me. Not once someone in the Welsh police had been shown beyond much doubt to have planted such a terrible lie in the mind of Messham in the 1990s:

Of course there is 'something fishy going on'. There are two pieces of misdirection that I am particularly aware of. The policeman who showed Messham a picture of the man who had abused him, in the 90s, and told him it was Alistair McAlpine when it wasn't. I fully believe Messham that this is what happened. And it cannot have been an innocent mistake by the person showing him the photograph. It was a terrible thing to do, for reasons unknown but deadly.

Sometimes one has to face the reality of evil and the conspiracy within which it operates. Surely it was obvious here, even though one didn't, as normal, know the names of those most central to the deception. Not the Beeb's strongest suit and not a great strength of our culture. But North Wales police and the National Crime Agency appear to deserve considerable credit this time around. And Newsnight wasn't as off beam in listening to Messham as has widely been assumed, though it remains a terrible lack of judgment, playing into the hands of the real culprits, to finger one Tory peer without proper fact-checking.

Apr 29, 2013 at 3:24 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake