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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker / Telesales

£15000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading supplie...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales Executive - Dereham

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is proud to b...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project