Culture: Opera House chief defiant as entire board agrees to resign

The chairman and board of the Royal Opera House resigned yesterday following a damning Commons report. But the chief executive told David Lister, Arts News Editor, that she will be staying put.

Mary Allen refused last night to bow to the Commons committee's call that she should quit, as she saw her chairman, Lord Chadlington, and the entire board hand in their resignations.

Lord Chadlington, brother of the former Tory Cabinet minister John Gummer, said he was resigning as a matter of honour. The other directors tendered their resignations, but have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smith, to stay on while he reconstitutes the board.

Mr Smith is likely to ask key board members such as fund-raiser Vivien Duffield and Labour benefactor and publisher Bob Gavron to stay on. Mr Gavron may yet end up as the new chairman of the ROH.

Mrs Allen disclosed last night that she did offer to resign. But, she said, her offer was "emphatically and unanimously rejected by the board." She added that Mr Smith had told her at an afternoon meeting that it would be "disastrously destabilising" if she went, and that Covent Garden music director Bernard Haitink had also implored her to stay.

"It has been an appallingly upsetting few days," she said last night, "but I am staying. I offered my resignation because I thought it the proper thing to do, but it was rejected. The board is the only body empowered to require my resignation. I reject the criticisms of the select committee utterly and there is evidence that exonerates me totally."

Earlier this week, the Culture Select Committee, chaired by Gerald Kaufman MP, accused the ROH of incompetent management and called on the chairman, chief executive and board to resign. Yesterday Mr Kaufman hinted he was still not satisfied with two out of the three demands accomplished. He said: "Lord Chadlington has done the right thing. I take no pleasure in the fact that he has felt it appropriate to resign but I am sure that he has acted appropriately in doing so.

"The committee recommended that the remainder of the board and the chief executive should also resign, and we therefore await developments with interest."

Lord Chadlington told the board that he was resigning at an emergency meeting held at 8.30am yesterday. He had told friends just before the meeting that he was going "to do a Carrington".

This referred to Lord Carrington's decision to resign as Foreign Secretary from Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government over the Falklands War in 1982.

Lord Chadlington said yesterday: "When a public document criticises the management of a public body, I believe that it is right that the chairman resigns as a matter of honour. We must, in public life, show a lead, and that is what I am doing."

It is also believed that the board recognised that some sort of sacrifice must be made, and it is understood that no concerted attempt was made to stop Lord Chadlington going. the deputy chairman, Sir James Spooner, will be the acting chairman. The board gave Mary Allen "unanimous support" at its meeting yesterday.

Responding to yesterday's announcement, Mr Smith said: "The Royal Opera House board have come to this decision themselves; as an independent body. The absolute imperative ... is to maintain confidence in the Royal Opera House companies and in the redevelopment scheme. It is therefore welcome that the board has agreed to continue, to ensure stability, until a newly constituted board is in place.

"I join the Board of the Royal Opera House in paying tribute to the work of Lord Chadlington. He has sought to bring changes to the structure of the ROH. The new board will be able to build on this foundation."

The Culture Select Committee's report was withering in its condemnation of almost every person involved in the Royal Opera House crisis.

It demanded the Royal Opera House board dissolve itself and that Mary Allen resign, handing over control of the Opera House during its current pounds 216m renovation to an administrator appointed by Mr Smith.

"We would prefer to see the House run by a philistine with the requisite financial acumen than by the succession of opera and ballet lovers who have brought a great and valuable institution to its knees," it said.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album