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Should Maria Miller order a judge-led inquiry into the BBC?

By Tim Montgomerie
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MILLER-MARIAIn his column for Saturday's Daily Mail Simon Heffer argued that the new Culture Secretary Maria Miller should order a judge-led inquiry into the BBC's handling of the Jimmy Savile affair. The investigation, he argued, should "find out how such behaviour could be allowed and who were responsible for letting it happen". He continued: "If that means ruining some more glittering posthumous reputations, so be it."

Mr Heffer doesn't stop there, however. He thinks the Corporation is on the floor and that there's an opportunity to kick it while it's vulnerable. He recommends three other lines of inquiry:

"[Mrs Miller] should address criticism that there is a liberal bias — ‘underplaying’ the dangers of mass immigration, its ‘pro-EU’ approach and the way it deals with religion... The Culture Secretary’s third duty is to review what the BBC does. It has a vital role providing services the market sector could not otherwise sustain and without which the quality of our civilisation and democracy would be harmed — news, current affairs, documentaries, and the serious output of Radio 4 and Radio 3. Its role in developing further the cult of the celebrity by churning out a regular stream of trashy and mindless programmes must be questioned."

PATTEN ChrisSimon Heffer's fourth and final recommendation is to force Lord Patten to become a full-time Chairman of the BBC Trust. He list ten of the former Tory Chairman's current responsibilities:
  1. Chancellor of Oxford University;
  2. Non-executive director of a head-hunting group;
  3. Adviser to telecom business Hutchison Europe, BP, Bridgepoint (a private equity group) and French energy company EDF;
  4. Board member of Overseers of Sabanci University Istanbul;
  5. Advisory Board member of St Benedict’s School London;
  6. Member of the Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador Network;
  7. International Adviser to the Japanese Art Association;
  8. Co-chair of the India-UK Round Table;
  9. Co-Chair of the Italy-UK Annual Conference; and
  10. Adviser to the Hague Institute for Global Justice.

Heffer concludes:

"Being chairman of the BBC Trust is a very demanding job, requiring great attention and rapid responses — and a sense of strategic vision that embraces the idea of change. Yet Lord Patten is just fitting it in around his other commitments."

He has a point.

> Nadine Dorries MP uses her column today to reflect on Jimmy Savile and call for better sex and relationships education in schools.


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