After receiving criticism for overseeing the short and inglorious reign of George Entwistle as director general of the BBC and his subsequent handling of the various issues affecting the organisation, BBC Trust chair Lord Patten acted swiftly in appointing a replacement, Tony Hall, who was previously head of news at the Corporation. Patten, who is due to address the Voice of the Listener and Viewer autumn conference in London on Monday, appeared to hint that Hall was his preferred candidate before Entwistle’s promotion, so he’ll no doubt be hoping for longer than 54 days in the job from his latest DG.
Meanwhile, back at the Euroranch, finance ministers from the eurozone are due to meet for their third meeting in a month, with a decision finally expected on whether to distribute the latest tranche of aid money to Greece. The delay is due to a lack of agreement over the target date for Greece’s debt to fall to a still-eyewatering 120% of output.
Last month’s surprise growth in GDP to a recession-smashing 1% prompted was met with a little less enthusiasm than might have been expected from George Osborne, who noted only that the figures showed Britain was ‘on the right track’. Perhaps the Chancellor, mindful of Ed Balls’ inevitable hand gesture, was preparing himself for a possible downwards revision when second estimate figures are released on Tuesday.
With Tony Hall’s appointment secured, Lord Patten is free to focus all his attention on the BBC’s other crisis, and on Tuesday he joins his acting underling Tim Davie at session of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to discuss the Corporation’s response to the Jimmy Savile case having vowed to get to the bottom of what he’s called ‘an appalling tsunami of horror’.
The Government is facing another potential scrap over prisoners with the European Court of Human Rights with the cases of convicted murderers Peter Moore, Douglas Gary Vinter and Jeremy Bamber due to come before the Grand Chamber on Wednesday. The three, who are challenging whole imprisonment orders which mean that they can only be released at the discretion of the Home Secretary on compassionate grounds, have seen their cases rejected by the ECHR once already, in January, when Vinter requested a referral to the Grand Chamber.
Tony Blair pops up again on Wednesday to make a speech, titled ‘Europe, Britain and Business: Beyond the Crisis’, to a business audience in London. The speech, in which the multi-talented former Prime Minister will set out ‘the challenges facing the EU and how they might be overcome’, is likely to be better received than his last appearance which saw protests by students, anti-war campaigners and even some former colleagues.
The Leveson Inquiry reports on Thursday, with Lord Justice Leveson making an on-camera statement at 1:30pm. The long-running inquiry grilled all the big-hitters, from Rupert Murdoch to David Cameron, and in recent weeks a decisive pre-emptive assault has been launched by a press fearful that the report will side with statutory regulation. In a nice bit of timing, Lord Hunt, chair of the soon-to-be-scrapped Press Complaints Commission is also set to speak on press regulation at the University of East Anglia later the same evening.
Also on Thursday, former News International chief exec Rebekah Brooks appears at Westminster magistrates’ court alongside Andy Coulson to face charges that they conspired with MOD employee Bettina Jordan-Barber and former Sun chief reporter John Kay to commit misconduct in public office. Brooks and the former News of the World editor (later, chief spin doctor to the PM) were arrested as part of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into allegations of corrupt payments.
Away from media matters, three by-elections are slated for Thursday – Rotherham, Croydon North and Middlesbrough. The Croydon poll follows the death of incumbent MP Malcolm Wicks, Middlesborough follows the death of Sir Stuart Bell, while Rotherham is the result of Denis McShane’s decision to step down following a searing report on his expenses by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.
The Court of Appeal on Thursday hears Sergeant Danny Nightingale’s application to appeal his conviction for possessing, as a ‘trophy’, a Glock 9mm pistol, given to the soldier after he left Iraq in 2007. Responding to a request by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, Attorney General Dominic Grieve said, November 20, that it would be ‘inappropriate’ for him to review the 18-month sentence handed down by a court martial, but there are reportedly high hopes for his appeal.
Moving to Friday, the UN General Assembly meets. It’s expected to discuss reports from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the situation in the Middle East, with particular focus likely to fall on the Gaza conflict and the ongoing civil war in Syria.
At the European Court of Human Rights, meanwhile, the Irish Department of Health has until Friday to brief the Court on its review of the findings of an expert group established to look into how the country might comply with an ECHR ruling on abortion, handed down in 2010. The group’s report, delivered to Health Minister James Reilly earlier this month, focused on Ireland’s ‘Case X’, which saw the Supreme Court rule that abortion should be lawful when a woman’s life is in danger or she is at risk of suicide.
On Saturday, David Beckham makes his last appearance for LA Galaxy after five-and-a-half seasons with the side, as Galaxy take on the mighty Houston Dynamo at the much-loved Home Depot Center in California. Becks has said he’s looking for ‘one more challenge’, but will be gutted to have been beaten to that BBC Director General post for which he’d already printed business cards.
Sunday brings the 12pm deadline for Home Secretary Theresa May to appeal the November 21 SIAC judgement upholding radical cleric Abu Qatada’s appeal against deportation. Although the Judicial Communications Office insisted the deadline was Sunday, May does have form with Qatada-related deadline mix-ups, so we’ll see…