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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 February, 2004, 01:31 GMT
Dyke: Pressure from No 10 'unfair'
Greg Dyke and staff
Dyke's resignation sparked protests at the BBC
The BBC's former director general Greg Dyke has accused Downing Street of "unfair" criticism of the corporation during the Iraq conflict.

He has released a letter which he wrote to the prime minister during the war, in reply to complaints from Number 10.

Downing Street has refused to comment on "confidential correspondence".

Mr Dyke has also told the Sunday Times that Number 10's former communications chief Alastair Campbell had waged a "war of attrition" with the BBC.

Mr Dyke resigned on Thursday, a day after the Hutton report heavily criticised the BBC.

INQUIRY BACKGROUND
September 2002: Government produces dossier about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, including claim they could be deployed within 45 minutes
May 2003: BBC Today programme's Andrew Gilligan broadcasts report of claims Downing Street "sexed up" dossier, with 45 mins claim included against intelligence agencies' wishes
10 July 2003:Dr David Kelly named as suspected source of report as government continues to deny the story
17 July 2003: Dr Kelly found dead
August 2003: Lord Hutton begins six weeks of hearings about the circumstances around Dr Kelly's death

His letter to Tony Blair, published in the Sunday Times, said: "For you to question the whole of the BBC's journalistic output across a wide range of radio, television and online services because you are concerned about particular stories which don't favour your view is unfair."

Mr Dyke said in the letter the BBC had made strenuous efforts to ensure the issues and events surrounding the war were properly reported.

Although he had assured Mr Blair he would not publish the letter, Mr Dyke said he had chosen to because it demonstrated the "intense pressure" Number 10 was putting on the BBC.

He told the Sunday Times the Hutton report had "completely failed to acknowledge" that pressure.

Mr Dyke received support from thousands of BBC staff on Saturday, when the Daily Telegraph published a full-page advertisement signed for and paid for by employees.

The advert said: "Greg Dyke stood for brave independent and rigorous BBC journalism that was fearless in its search for the truth".

'Draw a line'

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We are not going to comment on confidential correspondence.

"Lord Hutton looked at a particular accusation and judged that it was unfounded.

THE HUTTON REPORT
Full Report
(PDF file 2MB)

"The BBC apologised and that, as far as the government is concerned, has drawn a line under it."

The spokesman added the government remained committed to a "strong, independent BBC with editorial integrity".

On Friday Andrew Gilligan, the journalist at the centre of the row, also resigned.

He told the Sunday Times the Hutton report, which he condemned as one-sided, made this the "worst week of my life".

And referring to the 29 May broadcast on Radio 4's Today programme which led to the inquiry, Mr Gilligan said: "I cringe at my fumbling performance in my famous 6.07 live interview".

In his resignation statement, Gilligan said the Hutton report had "cast a chill over all journalism, not just the BBC's".

The BBC's acting director general Mark Byford is leading an internal inquiry into what went wrong and the steps needed to ensure it does not happen again.

Greg Dyke and Mark Byford will appear on BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme at 0900 GMT on Sunday.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's John Andrew
"The row over Hutton shows no sign of dying down"



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