Dyke: Expenses scandal undermines BBC scrutiny

By Alex Stevenson

Politicians damaged by the expenses scandal should not be allowed to conduct financial scrutiny of the BBC or other public bodies, former director-general Greg Dyke has said.

His comments came at a fringe meeting of the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth assessing the impact of revelations about MPs’ expenses abuses.

“I think there are now some MPs who can’t do their jobs,” Mr Dyke said.

“When I was director-general of the BBC I regularly appeared before select committees and had often quite I thought quite dumb people coming and giving me tough questions.

“How can those people question you now? How can someone who’s flipped their mortgage possibly sit there and start asking me about expenditure at the BBC? Because you just come back to them. I think some people are completely undermined by this. They should go because they can’t do the job.”

His comments came after a week in which culture secretary Ben Bradshaw said he believed the BBC should be scrutinised by the National Audit Office, like government departments.

The panel were not wholly negative about the impact of the expenses scandal. Tessa Munt, who is the Lib Dems’ challenger to Conservative MP David Heathcoat-Amory, said engagement in politics appeared on the rise.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory claimed £388 for bags of manure. “There’s been an outburst of humour relating to that particular event,” Ms Munt said. “There’s a lot more people who want to talk about politics – and that has to be a good thing.”

Mr Dyke pointed to the ever-broadening media landscape as a key trend likely to help this process.

“Modern means of communication brought about by the digital revolution give us the opportunity to fundamentally change the way decision-making and the people inter-relate,” he added.

“But first the political class have got to recognise there’s a problem and either initiate real change or, as Bob Dylan would have put it, ‘get out of the way’.”