Skip to comments.BBC staff stop work in protest (woo hoo!)
Posted on 01/30/2004 10:14:14 AM PST by Mark Felton
THE BBC plunged deeper into its worst crisis yesterday as thousands of staff around the country walked out in support of their deposed leaders and opinion polls showed many Britons thought the Hutton report into the death of weapons scientist David Kelly had been "a whitewash".
Some 56 per cent of voters told a Daily Telegraph poll that law lord Brian Hutton was wrong to lay all the blame on the BBC, while 49 per cent agreed in another poll that the findings were "a whitewash".
The BBC, the world's largest public broadcaster, was reeling yesterday from the report's scathing criticisms of its role in the lead-up to Kelly's suicide.
BBC staff protested at the forced resignation of the broadcaster's top executive, Greg Dyke, and staff pulled one BBC radio station off the air for a minute in protest.
Mr Dyke followed chairman Gavyn Davies out the door in the wake of Lord Hutton's criticism, leaving the organisation rudderless as it prepared for a sensitive government review of its funding, role and structure.
Both men had refused to give the kind of total apology Prime Minister Tony Blair had demanded for its handling of a May 2003 radio report by journalist Andrew Gilligan, which accused the Government of distorting intelligence to exaggerate the threat of Iraq's claimed weapons of mass destruction. Kelly was later identified as the source for Gilligan's assertion.
Mr Dyke had apologised for errors in the report but defended the BBC's right to cover the issue, noting that some aspects of the story were right. He had offered his resignation, expecting the BBC's 12-strong board of governors to reject it, but they accepted it to end the standoff with the Government.
The BBC's governors then issued a full apology, prompting Mr Blair to say he was now willing "to move on".
A defiant Mr Dyke said later he still did not accept the findings of former Northern Ireland chief justice Hutton, and did not support the board's apology.
Lord Hutton savaged the report by journalist Andrew Gilligan, and the response of his editors and the board of governors when the Government complained, saying they did not take the complaints seriously enough.
The fates of Gilligan and at least two of his editors will hinge on a new internal review by the board but union officials warned they would resist Gilligan's sacking.
Jeremy Dear of the National Union of Journalists claimed the Government was trying to intimidate the broadcaster and produce "a Pravda-style BBC" which only reported good news about the Government.
Tessa Jowell, the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, said Lord Hutton's findings would be considered in the coming review of the BBC charter but she promised any reforms would leave "a BBC that is nobody's lapdog - that challenges government and raises debate. That is in all our interests."
The Conservative Party said the affair proved the BBC should come under an outside regulator.
The new acting chairman, Lord Ryder, said: "The BBC must now move forward in the wake of Lord Hutton's report, which highlighted serious defects in the corporation's processes and procedures.
"On behalf of the BBC I have no hesitation in apologising unreservedly for our errors and to the individuals whose reputations were affected by them."
Mr Blair's former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, said it was right that both men should quit.
Broadcaster Melvyn Bragg said the tears and protests of staff had shown what a huge loss Mr Dyke would be. "There have never been scenes like this in the BBC's history," he said.
"I deplore... the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them... These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our funtionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief... This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit." --Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814. ME 14:46
Pretty hard stuff... Wonder what the listeners did for that minute? Probably blinked a few times.
Here's another one of those...
I'm sure Clifford Irving got Howard Hughes' date of birth right, but that didn't mean Irving was anything more than a charlatan. Kind of like the Baathist Broadcasting Corporation.
If your job was to install airbags and you told your boss "Sure I accidentally killed 15 people today, but you have to remember, some of the ones I put in were installed correctly", how do you think it would be viewed by management?
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