Greg Dyke, the BBC Director-General, has joined BBC chairman Gavyn Davies in resigning from his post at the BBC. Lord Ryder, the current Vice-Chairman of the BBC, and ex conservative MP, has taken over as Acting Chairman. The Governors have appointed Mark Byford, the deputy Director-General, as Acting Director-General. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has announced that the process for appointing a new Chairman will begin shortly.
In his resignation statement Gavyn Davies accepted that 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. As Chairman of the BBC he must accept responsibility for what happens in the organisation, and therefore following critisisms made in the Hutton Report, step down as chairman. He stressed that the Hutton report did not suggest that the governance of the BBC has systemic defects which need to be remedied, and that the report itself raised further questions: (i) whether 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?; (ii) did the verdict on Mr Gilligan’s reports take sufficient account of what was said by Dr Kelly on tape to Susan Watts?; (iii) did the 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?; and (iv) are Hutton’s 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?