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BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten To Stand Down After Heart Surgery

The chairman of the BBC Trust has left his role with immediate effect, citing health reasons.

1. The BBC’s chairman, Lord Patten of Barnes, has stood down from the BBC due to health problems.

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Lord (Chris) Patten, 69, a former senior Tory politician and one of the most powerful figures in British media, has left his role after undergoing heart surgery.

The BBC said in a statement this afternoon that vice chairman Diane Coyle will take over with immediate effect. Lord Patten had reportedly cancelled some engagements in the past few weeks, including a planned American trip.

His tenure as BBC Trust chairman, a role he’s held since 2011, was due to end in April 2015. The Trust is the executive governing body of the BBC, although its future is in doubt after drawing criticism from politicians.

2. Lord Patten said in the BBC’s statement that his heart condition means he can no longer continue working in such a high pressure role.

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“As is well known, I underwent angioplasty while in Hong Kong and a cardiac ablation procedure some seven years ago; and since then I have been regularly assessed by my cardiologist.

“Last year, for example, I had both a cardiac scan and a treadmill test. But on 27 April, I experienced serious chest pains and was admitted to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital that night. I was transferred on 28 April to Royal Brompton Hospital where I was successfully treated with a combination of bypass surgery and angioplasty, which had been developed by doctors at the hospital. These procedures have been successful and have ensured no permanent damage to my heart.

“On the advice of my doctors, however, and having consulted my family and friends, I have concluded that I cannot continue to work at the same full pace as I have done to date, and that I should reduce the range of roles I undertake. On this basis I have decided with great regret to step down from much the most demanding of my roles – that of Chairman of the BBC Trust.”

3. Lord Patten described the BBC as a “precious and wonderful thing” that needed to be preserved and protected.


It has been a privilege to have served as Chairman of the BBC Trust. Like the NHS, the BBC is a huge national asset which is part of the everyday fabric of our lives. It is not perfect – what institution is? It always needs to challenge itself to improve.

But it is a precious and wonderful thing, a hugely positive influence which benefits greatly from the creativity and dedication of its staff. I have had no reason to doubt that the leaders of all main political parties support the role it plays at the centre of our public realm. Most important of all, the British public enormously value the strength of its output, its independence and the contribution it makes every day to the quality of our lives.

When in due course the future of the BBC is subject to further discussion at Charter Review time, I hope to say more on the issue. For the time being, however, I shall be making no further statement whatsoever about the BBC or my period as Chairman of the BBC Trust.

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