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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 February, 2004, 10:36 GMT
BBC independence 'not threatened'
Mark Byford, acting Director General, BBC
Mark Byford has defended the BBC's "unreserved apology"
The BBC's acting director general Mark Byford has insisted the independence of the corporation is not under threat in the wake of the Hutton Report.

The fact the BBC had accepted it made errors had only made it stronger, Mr Byford told Radio 4's Today Programme.

He said the BBC "recognised Lord Hutton had published his findings" and that these were being studied, but declined to say these had been accepted in full.

The BBC had to be wary of labelling stories as "exclusive", he added.

Pressure

"The independence of the BBC is critical at home and abroad," Mr Byford said.

"There is no political pressure on it, no commercial pressure on it such that it falls to it.

"It's had pressure for the last 70 or 80 years on it but the key for the BBC is to be robust and stand up to it," he added.

Former BBC director general Greg Dyke has signed a six-figure book deal to reveal all about his side of the Hutton affair.

Apologising unequivocally means we say we made some mistakes and for those mistakes we are sorry
Mark Byford
BBC's acting director general
Mr Byford defended BBC acting chairman Lord Ryder's decision to "apologise unreservedly" following criticisms levelled at it by Lord Hutton.

The law lord found the Today programme report which claimed the government had "sexed-up" its Iraq dossier was "unfounded".

It also found that BBC management had failed to properly investigate whether that report was accurate and fair.

Mr Byford said a full apology had been required because there was some debate as to whether former director general Greg Dyke had given a full apology.

"Apologising unequivocally means we say we made some mistakes and for those mistakes we are sorry and more importantly we are going to learn from them," Mr Byford said.

He also denied ignoring the advice of its lawyers on the Hutton report.

This is a terrific acquisition for us
Victoria Barnsley
HarperCollins chief executive >

A document leaked to the Independent last week said BBC lawyers had argued the Hutton report was wrong in law.

Advice had suggested there were 12 main areas on which the BBC could mount a legal challenge.

Pressed by Today interviewer John Humphrys several times on whether the BBC had now accepted the report in full, Mr Byford said the corporation would now learn the lessons of those findings.

He went on to say that no legal challenge would be mounted on the issue of using single sources.

"I want a BBC that's absolutely firm in knowing it is independent of any commercial or political pressure...because that's what the people who own the BBC, the licence payers expect and demand," Mr Byford concluded.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Mark Byford, the BBC's acting director general
"The independence of the BBC is critical at home and abroad"



SEE ALSO:
BBC apologises as Dyke quits
29 Jan 04  |  Politics
Dyke casts doubt on Hutton report
30 Jan 04  |  Politics


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