Coffee House

The BBC saga distracts from Abu Qatada deportation and bail decision

12 November 2012

The decision to award George Entwistle a £1.3 million payoff appears, as my colleague Rod Liddle notes, to have misjudged the public mood (and indeed the mood of the majority of hard working and underpaid BBC staff). It is the sort of development about which the government feels it ought to comment, to provide a source of moral leadership. There is an added complication because the government must do so without infringing the BBC’s independence. There is even more danger in this case because the Chairman of the BBC has launched a very spirited assault on the corporation’s detractors in the Murdoch press and elsewhere; this is a possible culture war in the making. Naturally, the opposition wants its slice of media coverage and has forced the government to make a statement to the House on Entwistle’s severance package and its circumstances.

Maria Miller and David Cameron took a careful step in this political dance by releasing statements this morning questioning the deal’s justification. The BBC itself reports that Cameron is believed to see Enwistle’s acceptance of the cash as a matter of ‘conscience’, while Miller took a slightly different line by arguing that the BBC Trust must justify the deal. Meanwhile, Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, has written to John Whittingdale, Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, defending the decision. The government has professed its confidence in Lord Patten to see this crisis through, which is unsurprising given both Patten’s pedigree and his proximity to the Cameroons.


This developing media storm has distracted much of the press pack from the news that the Special Immigration Appeals Committee has upheld Abu Qatada’s appeal against deportation to Jordan on grounds that he would not receive a fair trial. The controversial Muslim cleric is understood to be preparing a bail application.

Needless to say, this is a blow to the government, which is determined to deport Qatada, so soon after its success in finally removing Abu Hamza. The government will appeal the decision.

UPDATE: Sky’s Mark White reports that the court has granted Qatada bail. Qatada will be released and placed under a 16 hour curfew.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • D B

    We need new and better judges. This lot are rubbish.

  • Steerage

    It is worth reminding ourselves how George Entwhistle ‘honourably stood aside’.
    As Lord Patten describes, “George approached me to ask if suitable terms for his resignation could be agreed [and] on Saturday evening we discussed them with George and his advisers.”
    And we thought the Trust was concerned about getting the BBC back on track not discussing the size of the Entwhistle trough.

    • ButcombeMan

      Giving yet another opportunity for Fat Pang to conduct useless negotiations.

      If “George” approached Patten and got a double payoff, George showed rather more talent at getting his whole body in the trough-(not just his snout) than he had in his role as Editor in Chief.

      Pang of course is Pang.

      Doing proper negotiations in the interests of the tax payer would have engaged much hassle & work for Pang. A short cut must have seemed attractive. No doubt Pang got himself loads of cover by consulting others-well of course.

      Contemptible in my view. Patten should go as well.

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    Another nail in Theresa May’s political coffin? She is now widely seen as the most weak and ineffectual Home Secretary in living memory & today’s decision will do nothing to dispel that view…

    • itdoesntaddup

      How could you forget Jacqboots so soon?

    • William Blakes Ghost

      Clearly you have only lived for two years or so. Granted May ain’t up to much but even she is not as useless as the ridiculous Jacqui Smith or pathetic Postie Johnson. May is just another in a procession of failed Home Secretary’s going back before Waddington and Clarke.

    • realfish

      ‘…She is now widely seen as the most weak and ineffectual Home Secretary in living memory…’

      That would take some doing. After a succession of failed Labour home secretaries, some would say that she is the best and most hardworking Home Secretary for some considerable time, easily brushing aside the whining opportunists bleats from her opposite number Mrs Balls.

      She next needs to deal with the liberal cultural defecit that Labour endgendered within our legal system that has put the interests of Qatada ahead of those of the British people; a culture that allows criminals and our enemies ‘sanctuary’ in our country on the cafkaesque grounds that they would be ostracised in their own country…because they were now a criminal, or their pet rabbit has a right to a family life.

    • barbie

      At least she’s trying that’s more than her previous fellow Home Secretaries ever did. Or this would have been dealt with years ago.

  • Chris lancashire

    I wonder if you can substantiate your claim that the majority of BBC staff are underpaid?

    • telemachus

      Sick now we all are of BBC bashing
      This is a right wing plot to bring about the death of an important pillar of British life

      • rod liddle

        “Sick now we all are”. Fuck me, it’s Yoda.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here