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
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
First full-length look is finally here
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...
£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...