BBC Director-General Greg Dyke has left his post on a day of high drama and emotion at the Corporation. The BBC is insisting that he resigned of his own volition, but Independent Television News says it understands that Dyke was effectively sacked. ITN says he offered his resignation to the BBC Board of Governors, but then added that he wanted to stay in his job and believed he should stay. The Board of Governors then voted by a margin of more than two to one to accept his resignation. Credence is given to this version of events in the wording of the E-mail sent to BBC staff, in which Dyke said “I don’t want to go and I’ll miss everyone here hugely.”
Dyke also wrote: “I hope that, over the last four years, I’ve helped to make it a more human place where everyone who works here feels appreciated. If that’s anywhere near true I leave contented, if sad.” Hundreds of BBC staff gathered outside Television Centre and Broadcasting House in a spontaneous and unprecedented public display of affection for their erstwhile boss, whose departure comes in the wake of the Hutton Report. Dyke was seen by many BBC employees as a breath of fresh air, someone who genuinely cared about his staff. Chants of “we want Greg” filled the air as ordinary BBC employees left their desks and walked outside into the cold afternoon. Greg Dyke told BBC Radio 5 Live that he couldn’t believe the scenes, and was clearly close to tears as he spoke. Staff at other BBC centres are taking similar action.
Former Director of World Service and deputy D-G Mark Byford has been named Acting Director-General. Acting Chairman Lord Ryder has apologised unreservedly for the BBC’s errors. Prime Minister Tony Blair has accepted the apology and said that as far as he is concerned the feud between the government and the BBC is now over.
Earlier, in a formal statement, Greg Dyke admitted that the Hutton Report had inevitably compromised his position as Director-General. He said he hoped his resignation and that of the Chairman, Gavyn Davies, would draw a line under the affair. “Mistakes were clearly made by the BBC, and that’s life,” he said. He said the preservation of the BBC per se is irrelevant unless it has the trust of the public.
In his first public statement, Acting D-G Mark Byford said “I recognise it is now my task, as acting Director-General, to lead the organisation through what is a very turbulent period. We must now study the Hutton Report carefully, learn appropriate lessons, and implement relative measures. The BBC must provide high quality, independent, impartial journalism, recognized for its accuracy, fairness and objectivity. It must be recognised in the UK and around the world for trusted, reliable, authoritative news, intelligent discussion and debate, and for courageous investigative journalism, set within a rigorous and robust editorial framework. Creativity is the heart of the organisation, and we must strive to promote high quality, innovation and ambition in all that we do, serving audiences as a beacon of public service broadcasting.”