BBC number two says Murdoch criticism is 'a bit rich'

Caroline Thomson - BBC

Caroline Thomson, who could be the next DG, twists the knife following phone hacking scandal

LAST UPDATED AT 10:35 ON Mon 26 Mar 2012

THE BBC's number two has hit back at criticism of the corporation from Rupert and James Murdoch, calling it "a bit rich" given the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World.

Caroline Thomson is the BBC's chief operating officer - and a possible candidate to become the first female director general of the corporation when her boss Mark Thompson steps down in the autumn. She will have done no harm to her popularity among BBC staff with her attack on the Murdochs, who are well known for their antipathy to the state-funded broadcaster.

The Daily Telegraph reports on an interview with her local paper The Cumberland News in which Thomson said: "Nothing is more important than the BBC's independence. You absolutely can't let politicians of any hue tell you what to do.

"Two or three years ago the level of negativity began to sap morale a bit. There was a lot of criticism from politicians and a lot of the press that are owned by people who are our competitors.

"Rupert Murdoch made a speech in which he lambasted Britain for having the BBC. James Murdoch said 'the only guarantor of independence is profit'. I think that looks a bit rich now."

Thomson was referring to 2009's McTaggart Lecture, during which James Murdoch attacked the whole idea of a state-funded broadcaster, saying: "In this all-media marketplace, the expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision, which are so important for our democracy."

He concluded that "the only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit".

On the subject of whether she will apply to be the next director general of the BBC, Thomson says: "I shall decide when there's a vacancy. It's an enormous job. Mark Thompson once described it as like skateboarding downstairs holding a Ming vase.

"If you've been as close to it as I have, you find the prospect that you might do it a bit awesome. You stop and think, my goodness, this would be big. On the other hand it would be enormously exciting and very challenging. So, we shall see." · 

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The continued sheer gall of the Naked Emperor, even though Murdoch fils has had to jump off his gilded throne (however temporarily), is demonstrated in his Tweet on the Cruddas affair, as reported in your publication today, that "Without trust, democracy and order will go."

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