DCMS – BBC & NORRIS MCWHIRTER – 20 January 2011

Dr Julian Lewis: I thank the Secretary of State [for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Mr Jeremy Hunt)] from the bottom of my heart, for what he said about the disgraceful attack on the reputation of Norris McWhirter, whom the BBC was delighted to have as one of its star celebrities for decade after decade. May I tell him that I worked with Norris McWhirter for many years in politics, and one could never find a more dedicated opponent of totalitarianism? That is hardly surprising given that at the age of 17, he volunteered for the Royal Navy and took part in one of the most successful anti-U-boat organisations in the battle of the Atlantic. It was a particular disgrace that someone – David Baddiel – who, like me, is from a Jewish background, should denounce that admirable man as a fascist or a Nazi sympathiser simply because he disagreed with him politically.

[Mr Speaker: On the BBC, I call the Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Mr Jeremy Hunt):  I echo what I said about the importance of impartiality, and say simply to my hon. Friend that given his sustained interest in that, many people at the BBC are gutted that he did not put his name forward for the chairmanship of the BBC Trust.]