Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, testified to a parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom that he had no legal grounds to dismiss former BBC director general George Entwistle following the 'Newsnight' accusations against a former top British politician. Entwistle departed the BBC on November 11 and received a $720,000 payoff for his less than three months of service.
Patten explained to Parliament that he sought advice from legal experts before giving the green light to Entwistle's severance package. According to Patten, Entwistle demanded a full 12 months' salary, private medical coverage and legal representation in his departure. He added that lawyers suggested that if Entwistle went before a industrial tribunal, he could win an additional $128,000 on top of the $720,00, so he was attempting to save the BBC money.
"We did not have grounds for dismissal," Patton said. "We could either accept a consensual deal for 12 months, or the situation would drift on and we would find ourselves with a constructive dismissal [claim] and also an unfair dismissal."
Patton refused to besmirch Entwistle, saying he was a good man who got stuck with an unfortunate situation.
Enwistle's tenure also saw the damn break on the sexual abuse allegations against former 'Top of the Pops' host Jimmy Savile. The late Savile is accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with scores of underage British females during his time at the BBC. 'Newnight' previously buried its own investigation into Savile's actions, another move that has drawn the BBC criticism.