Former BBC R4 Today editor Rod Liddle has noted that speaker John Bercow has ordered BBC Chairman Lord Patten to give evidence to the Commons European Scrutiny Committee
about the corporation’s EU coverage.
Liddle picked up in his Sunday Times column that Mr Bercow – responding to a question from Labour eurosceptic Kate Hoey – stated:
“I must say that anybody who is invited to appear before a Committee of this House should do so. No one, however senior, should imagine him or herself above such scrutiny. That is a very important principle.”
Andrew Lansley, leader of the House noted:
“I am aware of what the hon. Lady is talking about. I note from Lord Patten’s correspondence with the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee that he expressly did not rely on the fact that he is a Member of the House of Lords in this regard. I will have conversations with the Committee’s Chair and the BBC on the matter, because there is a difference between independence for the BBC, which we absolutely must respect, and accountability, which should enable this House to ask reasonable questions.”
Mr Liddle, in his column, asserted:
“It (Lord Patten’s response) will be interesting because there is not a single British public figure I can think of – not even Ken Clarke, not even Tony Blair – who was more in thrall to the EU than Fatty Pang (the Chinese nickname for Lord Patten when he was governor of Hong Kong). And it will be interesting, too, because the corporation’s director general until September last year , Mark Thompson, accepted there had been a bias against those of eurosceptic…viewpoints.
“It is par for the course for departing DGs to announce airily that the BBC did exhibit bias on one issue or another , terribly sad, hopefully everything’s tickety-boo now, and so on….But the joy of having Lord Patten appear before a committee is that he will be forced to justify a current bias; forced to defend the corporation’s viewpoint – which was once expressed to me – is that those who oppose the EU are ‘all mad’.”
Lord Patten’s response to the EU Scrutiny Committee is here.
The full chain of correspondence between Lord Patten and the committee is here.
News-watch evidence about the BBC response to the European committee includes this.