Downing Street remains silent after Dyke accuses 'bully' Blair of interfering with BBC

Downing Street and the BBC were yesterday trying to weather the storm as Greg Dyke, the corporation's former director general, unleashed a scathing attack on Tony Blair and the governors who forced him to quit in the wake of the Hutton report.

Downing Street and the BBC were yesterday trying to weather the storm as Greg Dyke, the corporation's former director general, unleashed a scathing attack on Tony Blair and the governors who forced him to quit in the wake of the Hutton report.

Neither Number 10 nor the BBC would comment after Mr Dyke called for the resignation of the six governors still on the board who voted for him to stand down, and accused Mr Blair of attempting to "bully" the BBC into supporting the war.

Mr Dyke was forced to resign from the BBC, along with the corporation's chairman, Gavyn Davies, after senior management was heavily criticised in the Hutton report on the death of government weapons expert David Kelly. Yesterday, his memoirs revealed that that Mr Blair wrote to him in the week of the invasion complaining of a "breakdown of the separation of news and comment" at the corporation.

Downing Street refused to make a detailed comment on Mr Dyke's claims. A spokesman said: "Mr Dyke is entitled to his opinion. It's not one we share, nor is it one shared by four exhaustive inquiries."

But Robin Cook, the former Foreign Secretary, said: "It is perfectly clear that the Government hopes Iraq as an issue will go away and stop bothering them. The fact they will not enter the debate is evidence of how little faith they have in their ability to win the argument."

Neither the BBC nor Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street director of communications, would enter the row. Mr Dyke savaged the BBC governors who failed to back him after the resignation of Mr Davies, describing them as "behaving like frightened rabbits caught in headlights".

He said: "I had worked flat out for four years to turn round a deeply unhappy and troubled organisation and was now being thrown out by the people I respected least, the Governments." He added: "The establishment figures had got rid of the upstart. It was, in many ways, a very British coup."

In his memoirs, Mr Dyke referred to Baroness Sarah Hogg and Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, two governors at the time, as "the posh ladies", saying the former "rarely seemed to leave her politics or prejudices at the door" and suspecting the latter "had not been as successful in life as she wished".

He defended the controversial Today programme report which sparked the bitter row between Number 10 and the BBC, which ended with David Kelly's suicide. He said: "The charge against Blair is damning.

"He was either incompetent and took Britain to war on a misunderstanding or he lied when he told the House he didn't know what the 45-minute claim meant.

"We were all duped. History will not be on Blair's side. It will not absolve him but will show the whole saga is a great political scandal."

He said Mr Blair "unleashed the dogs" at the BBC hierarchy after the publication of Lord Hutton's report, accusing the Prime Minister of reneging on an agreement not to call for resignations at the corporation.

According to the book, Mr Davies said: "Blair skilfully piled the pressure on and did nothing to discharge the promise there should be no resignations. I saw Campbell calling us liars and demanding heads should roll. I assumed that Blair had deliberately unleashed the dogs against us."

Mr Dyke also lambasted Mr Campbell. He accused him of "turning Downing Street into a place similar to Richard Nixon's White House" and branded him "a deranged, vindictive bastard" for demanding that heads should roll at the BBC.

He also claims that John Scarlett, the former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had doubts about the claim that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

His book also attacks Lord Hutton. Mr Dyke said: "I read his conclusions in total disbelief. This man wasn't on the same planet as the rest of us."

THE GOVERNORS WHO VOTED FOR DYKE TO GO...

DERMOT GLEESON

Position: He is executive chairman of MJ Gleeson Group plc.

Time spent on the board: Appointed a BBC governor in November 2000 and reappointed for a further four years last month. His term of office now runs for another four years, to the end of October 2008.

BARONESS HOGG

Position: Chairman of Frontier Economics and 3i. Also a director of P&O Princess and appointed deputy chairman of GKN from 1 December 2003.

Time spent on the board: Appointed a BBC governor in February 2000, her term completed February 2004.

MERVYN JONES

Position: A historian and broadcaster with posts at University of Wales and University of Liverpool, where he was director of continuing education.

Time spent on the board: BBC national governor for Wales from 1 January 2003 until the end of 2006.

FABIAN MONDS

Position: Professor Monds is chairman of Invest Northern Ireland, the economic development agency.

Time spent on the board: He becamenational governor for Northern Ireland in 1999. In June last year his term was extended to July 2007.

DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES

Position: Chairs the BBC's audit committee and the governors' World Service Consultative Group.

Time spent on the board: She was appointed in January 1998 and her term of office has been extended to the end of next year.

LORD (RICHARD) RYDER OF WENSUM

Position: He became acting chairman on 28 January and resumed as vice-chairman on 17 May.

Time spent on the board:He became vice-chairman on 1 January for four years. His resignation from the board took effect in June.

SIR ROBERT SMITH

Position: He is chairman of the Weir Group, deputy chairman of Scottish and Southern Energy and holds several non-executive directorships.

Time spent on the board:He was appointed national governor for Scotland in August 1999. In 2003 his term of office was extended to July 2007. In July this year he said he would step down at the end of 2004.

RANJIT SONDHI

Position: He is a senior lecturer at Birmingham University, where he co-ordinates a new degree in race and ethnic studies.

Time spent on the board: Appointed in August 1998, his term of office was renewed in 2002 and now finishes in October 2006.

...AND THOSE WHO WANTED HIM TO STAY

DEBORAH BULL

Position: She had a 20-year career with the Royal Ballet until 2001, becoming principal dancer in 1992 and touring the world with the company.

Time spent on the board: She became a governor on 1 August 2003 for a four-year term.

RUTH DEECH

Position: She is a trustee of the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation and a bencher of the Inner Temple, and holds an honorary doctorate from Strathclyde University.

Time spent on the board: Appointed in October 2002 for a four-year term.

ANGELA SARKIS

Position: An independent consultant with a management interest. Member of the African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance and the Home Office's active community unit advisory panel.

Time spent on the board: Four-year term from 2002.

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