30/01/2004

Dyke scores line in Hutton mud

Former BBC Director-General Greg Dyke has said that he was shocked that the Hutton Report was "so black and white" and has claimed that the report's conclusions were "quite clearly wrong".

In an outspoken interview on GMTV Mr Dyke also attacked Tony Blair's former press chief Alastair Campbell for being "remarkably ungracious". After calling for his resignation in the wake of the publication of the Hutton Report on Wednesday, Mr Campbell yesterday embarked on a series of self-aggrandising interviews in which he said he had always told the truth. Today's editorials branded this "victory parade" a being in bad taste.

On the Hutton Report, Mr Dyke said: "We were shocked that it was so black and white. We knew mistakes had been made by us but we didn't believe they were only by us.

"We were all at the BBC, 20 of us, who got it the day before, we were all absolutely shocked by Hutton. I would be very interested to see what other law lords looking at Hutton thought of it. There are points of law in there in which he is quite clearly wrong," said Mr Dyke.

A number of polls today have revealed that a majority of people (57%) believed that the Hutton inquiry was a whitewash for the government.

Sir Christopher Bland, a former BBC Chairman, has also accused Lord Hutton of "whitewashing" the government and "tar and feathering the BBC".

The former BBC Director-General was forced off the bridge of his ship yesterday, out of a job, but not apparently out of favour at a "rudderless" BBC as staff demonstrated at his departure.

In a typically magnanimous fashion, Mr Dyke elected to read out excerpts from emails he had received from well-wishers as he announced his resignation from the steps of Broadcasting House.

Leaving the corporation yesterday, the BBC Director-General said that he wanted to draw a line under the affair, something the Prime Minister said that he also hoped to do.

The acting Chairman of the governors, Lord Ryder made an "unreserved apology" for the allegations of Mr Gilligan. This apology - though significantly not the earlier apology issued by Mr Dyke - was duly accepted by Mr Blair.

Today, acting Director-General Mark Byford confirmed that the BBC would be launching an internal inquiry into the Gilligan affair.

The BBC's Director of News Richard Sambrook sent an email to news staff saying that the inquiry was necessary to "rebuild trust in BBC News".

A poll for the Guardian newspaper revealed that while three times as many people trusted the BBC to tell the truth than trust the government, almost half of those surveyed trusted neither the BBC nor the politicians.

(SP)

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