BBC bosses under fire over Brand ordeal

Parliament accuses pubcaster of being 'out of touch'

LONDON -- BBC bosses came under fire from parliament's Culture Media and Sport select committee Tuesday after admitting "serious editorial lapses" over the Russell Brand affair.

BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons and director general Mark Thompson were accused of being "out of touch" with audiences over the scale of fees paid to top talent.

They also were forced to concede that the BBC's editorial standards had failed at a senior level.

"There are many aspects of this affair that I would have liked to see handled differently," Lyons told an all-party committee of MPs.

"There is evidence of senior members of staff not being clear about what falls outside BBC controls," he said.

The BBC's director general said that the pubcaster has improved its editorial compliance during his tenure but admitted that, with the number of BBC outlets across television, radio and the Internet, "sometimes we will get it wrong."

"This is a very untypical, utterly unacceptable but genuinely exceptional lapse," Thompson said.

The row began in October after BBC Radio 2 broadcast a recorded phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs during which presenters Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross bragged about Brand's sexual relationship with the actor's granddaughter.

In the aftermath of a furor that drew nearly 50,000 complaints from the public, BBC management suspended TV and radio star Ross for 12 weeks and both Brand and both Brand and Radio 2 head Leslie Douglas resigned.