Hutton in frame for BBC top job

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WILL HUTTON, editor in chief of the Observer, has been shortlisted for the post of director-general of the BBC.

The 48-year-old journalist and author was interviewed by corporate headhunters Heidrich & Struggles earlier this month for the pounds 380,000 job, which will become vacant when Sir John Birt steps down next April.

Mr Hutton said yesterday: "I have been invited to talk to the BBC governors but beyond that I feel I cannot, and should not comment."

The BBC governors are due to meet shortly to discuss the other shortlisted candidates, who are believed to include Greg Dyke, chairman of Pearson TV, Alan Yentob, the BBC's Director of Television, and Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times.

Mr Hutton's 1995 book assessing Britain after Thatcher, The State We're In, outlined "stakeholder" principles, and was regarded by many as New Labour's ideological "textbook" in the run-up to the last election.

After graduating in economics and sociology at Bristol University, Mr Hutton was a stockbroker for six years. He then joined the BBC as a producer and worked on news and finance programmes. He became economics editor of the Guardian in 1990.

"I think that because Will believes in public service broadcasting he thinks he should throw his hat in the ring," a friend of Mr Hutton said yesterday.