Birt supporters counter-attack
Monday 15 March 1993
Senior executives who support his changes came to his aid yesterday as the pressure grew for him to resign because of the controversy over his tax arrangements.
All 10 fellow members of the board of management, which runs the BBC's day-to-day affairs, signed a letter published in the Times today calling for him to continue as Director-General.
And in another letter six well- known BBC journalists accused Mr Birt's critics of settling old scores. Martyn Lewis, the Nine O'Clock News presenter, Peter Sissons, the Six O'Clock News presenter, Peter Jay, the economic editor, Robin Oakley, the political editor, Polly Toynbee, the social affairs editor, and John Simpson, the foreign affairs editor, pledge their support for Mr Birt.
They say Mr Birt was guilty only of a hastily-corrected error of judgement which applied equally to the BBC governors who agreed his financial arrangements.
The letter says Mr Birt's critics are trying to destroy him in order to destroy his radical plans.
The letter from the senior management states: 'The controversy surrounding the employment arrangements of John Birt has obscured the major issue in British broadcasting - the future of the BBC beyond 1996 when its current Charter expires.'
It adds that broadcasting will change substantially in the next few years and the BBC must 'have a clear vision if it is to retain its role as the cornerstone of British broadcasting and continue to command respect and admiration in Britain and throughout the world.
'In January John Birt laid out that vision of a wide range of high- quality programmes, greater efficiency and accountability with value for money for licence payers. We, the ten members of the Board of Management, believe that John Birt is the best person to lead the BBC and he has our unanimous support.'
Two of the signatories had already publicly supported Mr Birt before the letter was distributed by the BBC press office yesterday. Will Wyatt, managing director of network television, backed him in a radio interview while David Hatch, an adviser to the Director- General, delivered his support in an article in the Sunday Express.
This concerted campaign to shore up Mr Birt's position came as pressure increased for him to resign over the revelation that his BBC salary had been paid into his private company.
The executives' public support was in sharp contrast to the silence of the BBC governors.
James Fenton, page 21
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...