Dyke demanded job back, documents reveal

Empty

LONDON -- Former BBC director general Greg Dyke demanded that the BBC governors give him his job back just a week after being forced to resign in 2004, according to minutes of the meeting published Thursday by the BBC.

Dyke and former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies resigned following the Hutton report's severe criticism of the BBC's journalistic integrity in its reporting of the run-up to the Iraq war.

According to minutes of the governors' meeting -- released under the Freedom of Information Act following a request by the Guardian newspaper -- Dyke believed he had been wrongly forced to step down.

He is said to believe that he had an agreement with former chairman Davies and another board member, Pauline Neville Jones, that Davies alone would resign over the Hutton inquiry.

However, the board felt that Davies' resignation amounted to an acceptance of guilt on behalf of the BBC and that Dyke would be a "lame duck" director general if he remained.

"I believe I have been mistreated and I want to be reinstated," Dyke told the governors by letter.

Minutes of the meeting record "disquiet at this turn of events," but said the governors were "unanimous in the view that reversing their decision was untenable" because it would make the BBC board of governors look "ridiculous."

Minutes of the week-earlier meeting at which Davies resigned and then Dyke was asked to resign show that the former director general had no idea that the board would expect him to quit.

The meeting, which began Jan. 28, 2004 at 5 p.m., continued until 1 a.m. the following morning as Dyke fought to remain in his post.

At 7:45 p.m., BBC deputy chairman Richard Ryder was dispatched to tell Dyke the board believed it would be "more dignified" for him to step down with immediate effect. Ryder noted to the governors that Dyke's "stock in Whitehall was very low, and his relationship with the secretary of state (Tessa Jowell) is very poor."

Ryder reported to the board that Dyke was "very surprised" and "shattered by the news" but had eventually been persuaded to draft a resignation statement.

By 8:30 p.m., however, Dyke had withdrawn his offer to quit and was fighting for his job, arguing that he had had an understanding with Davies that the chairman would be alone in quitting and that the prevailing view was that the Hutton report had been very unfair to the BBC.

Over the next two hours, the deputy chairman and other board members had one-on-one conversations with Dyke in an attempt to persuade him to step down voluntarily rather than be fired.

By 10:20 p.m., the minutes record that Dyke had reluctantly agreed to discuss the terms of his departure, and that negotiations with him continued until 1:30 a.m., an hour after the meeting had formally closed.

News of Dyke's resignation was announced the following day, and the former director general was met by standing ovations and tears from staff.

In his memoirs on the event, Dyke blamed a "weak" BBC board for not standing up to the government over the Hutton report. He has since become chairman of kids animation company HIT Entertainment and, last year, mounted an unsuccessful private equity-backed bid to acquire ITV.
comments powered by Disqus