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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 February, 2004, 16:45 GMT
Dyke 'forced out' by BBC governors
Greg Dyke
Dyke asked for the confidence of BBC governors
Greg Dyke has said he was forced to quit as director general of the BBC by the corporation's governors.

He said he had offered to resign if he did not have their full support and they agreed he should go.

Mr Dyke also revealed that the entire board of governors had considered quitting after the critical Hutton report into Dr David Kelly's death.

He told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost: "I urged them not to all go, you can't have a BBC with nobody there."

Confidence

Mr Dyke said he had told the board: "'If I haven't got your confidence, I can't stay'.

The moment the BBC starts kowtowing to government, you might as well close it down - it's as simple as that
Greg Dyke

"At that stage I left the room. An hour or so later I discovered they had decided to suggest I leave. I'd offered it - that was it."

Mr Dyke, who quit a day after Gavyn Davies resigned as BBC chairman, also renewed his criticism of the government and Lord Hutton on Sunday.

In an interview in The Sunday Times he accused Downing Street of "systematically bullying" and intimidating the corporation over its coverage of the war in Iraq.

He also released a letter he sent in response to one sent by Prime Minister Tony Blair during the Iraq war.

Strenuous efforts

The letter read: "For you to question the whole of the BBC's journalistic output ... because you are concerned about particular stories which don't favour your view is unfair."

The outcome of charter renewal will be a strong BBC ... that is independent of government
Tessa Jowell

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

He had published the letter because it demonstrated the "intense pressure" Number 10 was putting on the BBC.

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

Mr Dyke said Lord Hutton "did not appear" to have considered evidence from the BBC which showed ex-Downing Street media chief Alastair Campbell had "inundated" the corporation with complaints.

Mr Campbell had been trying to "intimidate the BBC so we reported what he wanted us to report as opposed to what we wanted to report".

"That's fair enough - that's his job - but our job is to resist that."

BBC criticism

Mr Dyke said with hindsight he wished he had launched an inquiry into Andrew Gilligan's Radio 4 Today programme report when Mr Campbell first "went ballistic", rather than rushing to respond.

But he said the Kelly affair had probably shown the government that "the people out there much prefer us to a bunch of the latest politicians who happen to be in government".

He added: "The moment the BBC starts kowtowing to government, you might as well close it down. It's as simple as that."

Mr Dyke also accused Lord Hutton of not understanding the law, as it applied to the media, in reaching his conclusions.

But he conceded that Mr Gilligan, who resigned on Friday, had "changed his position a bit" from what he had told the BBC about his notes and conversation with Dr Kelly, and when it came to the inquiry.

High standards

Acting Director General Mark Byford said the corporation accepted it had made errors and should now move on.

He said Mr Gilligan's claim that most of his story was right was "not good enough for the BBC".

A Commissioner for Public Appointments has been asked to oversee the selection of a new BBC chairman to ensure public confidence in its independence.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the Hutton report would not adversely affect the BBC's charter renewal, but the process would consider its findings.

"I can absolutely guarantee that the outcome of charter renewal will be a strong BBC and a BBC that is independent of government," she said.

Constitutional Affairs Secretary Lord Falconer insisted Lord Hutton was a judge "of unimpeachable standing" and denied any plot to produce a "whitewash".




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nick Higham
"Greg Dyke is angry, and since resigning he has barely been silent"



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