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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 19:34 GMT
BBC chairman's statement in full
Gavyn Davies has been in the post since 2001
The following is a full text of Gavyn Davies' resignation statement.

When I became chairman of the BBC in 2001, I said that this appointment was the greatest privilege of my professional life. It will remain so.

The BBC is the finest entity in world broadcasting.

It has a deep regard for the truth.

It is trusted and respected by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

It is staffed by thousands of programme makers instilled with the values of public service.

They must let themselves feel no shame about the Hutton Report.

No one at the BBC in the past year has deliberately misled the public, and no one has acted out of malign motivation.

The public should not take [the BBC's] existence entirely for granted.

The BBC is not owned by any government, but is held in perpetuity by its governors and management for the British people.

The public should not take its existence entirely for granted.

It is frequently under attack, both from competitors, and from others who do not share or understand its principles.

Its friends are too often silent when it is under threat.

Silent majority

In the charter debate now under way, the massive silent majority which loves the BBC needs more often to make its voice heard.

Otherwise its future may not be secure.

The governors and executive of the BBC are put there to serve the British public and no one else.

They are able to do this because the constitution of the BBC makes its governance independent of any political or commercial interest, and because the licence fee ensures secure funding for five years at a stretch.

If these twin pillars are undermined, the whole edifice could come tumbling down.

Licence payers cannot maintain their trust in the output of the BBC unless they can have confidence in its leadership
On these twin pillars rests the independence of the BBC from political influence, and on that rests the trust that it wins from the British public.

Because the BBC is so widely trusted, it is crucial that its chairman should take personal responsibility for ensuring that the highest standards of accuracy and impartiality are maintained in its news output.

Licence payers cannot maintain their trust in the output of the BBC unless they can have confidence in its leadership.

The Hutton Report will undermine that confidence.

Lord Hutton has concluded that much of Andrew Gilligan's report on weapons of mass destruction was wrong.

He has said that the BBC's editorial and managerial processes were flawed.

If true, these would be serious failings.

War coverage

Many of the Hutton criticisms of BBC managerial procedures were accepted by the BBC during the Inquiry.

We have now taken steps to remedy them.

More serious still, Lord Hutton has criticised the actions of the governors.

He has, in mitigation, recognised that the governors found themselves in a difficult position last July, not least because they faced an intemperate attack from Mr Campbell, which undoubtedly scrambled our radar screens at the top of the BBC.

Lord Hutton has said that the governors were right to defend the BBC's independence in the face of Mr Campbell's charge that the organisation's war coverage was biased.

I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee, and that the referee's decision is final
Importantly, his Lordship has not suggested that the governance of the BBC has systemic defects which need to be remedied.

Critics of the system should take careful note of this.

But he has concluded that in the highly unusual circumstances of last summer, the governors should have conducted their own investigation of Mr Campbell's complaints, on top of that which had been conducted by management.

I wish we had asked for such a special investigation last summer.

Although I doubt whether this would in practice have made much difference to the course of the tragic events which were then unfolding (since a decisive verdict could not have been reached without seeing the successive drafts of the dossier), even an inconclusive inquiry would have protected the governors from subsequent attack.

In my evidence to the Inquiry, I said that the chairman should accept ultimate responsibility for everything the BBC does.

That is even more true of the actions of the board of governors than it is of the rest of the organisation.

I am happy to accept that ultimate responsibility.

So it is unavoidable that Lord Hutton's report, which was prepared with diligence and care, has created a new situation which needs to be addressed.

But before coming to that, I wish to raise some important questions about the report itself.

Freedom of the press

First, is it clearly possible to reconcile Lord Hutton's bald conclusions on the production of the September 2002 dossier with the balance of evidence that was presented to him during his own Inquiry.

Second, did his verdict on Mr Gilligan's reports take sufficient account of what was said by Dr Kelly on tape to Susan Watts?

Third, did his criticisms of the BBC take sufficient account of the extenuating circumstances which were created by the public attacks on the BBC during and after the war?

Finally, are his conclusions on restricting the use of unverifiable sources in British journalism based on sound law and, if applied, would they constitute a threat to the freedom of the press in this country?

I am sure that these questions will be widely debated.

But, whatever the outcome, I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee, and that the referee's decision is final.

There is an honourable tradition in British public life that those charged with authority at the top of an organisation should accept responsibility for what happens in that organisation.

I am therefore writing to the Prime Minister today to tender my resignation as chairman of the BBC, with immediate effect.

The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Gavyn Davies believes when this kind of thing happens the guy at the top should go"

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