Lord Patten: In some papers the BBC gets bashed more than President Assad

BBC chairman Lord Pattern has hit back at an “exceptionally ill-judged attack” from Conservative Party chairman Grant Schapps and said that the corporation gets bashed more in the press than President Assad.

Last month Grant Schapps MP told then Sunday Telegraph that the BBC’s £3.6bn licence fee income should be cut if it cannot become more transparent. And he accused the BBC of lack of balance, singling out home affairs editor Mark Easton for particular criticism. He accused Easton of failing to represent the Government position on immigration.

Patten told the New Statesman: “We were appearing in front of a select committee the other day … I said what had surprised me during my period as chairman of the Trust was on the whole the lack of political pressure from anybody.

“And then just to make it look as though I was a cloth head, the chairman of the Conservative Party launched himself into an exceptionally ill-judged attack on the BBC.

"The chairmen of the Conservative Party invariably have a bash at the BBC in the run-up to elections. I have to say to my eternal shame I did the same. But what was odd was publicly linking an attack on a journalist with the BBC as whole and the licence fee."

Patten accepted that the BBC had mishandled the issue of executive pay-offs, but added: "I was thinking the other day that in some newspapers the BBC gets bashed more than President Assad. It's extraordinary.”

He added: “If you then look at a period of seven years from 2006 to 2013, people who left and were paid more than they were contractually entitled, that totalled £6.8 million, which is about what you'd have to pay to televise a football match.

"This is not the most outrageous example I can think of mortal sin. . . But it was wrong. And it stopped. And it won't happen again."

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