Milne pays tribute to 'most distinguished correspondent'

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The Independent Online
MR TULLY's resignation last night was described as 'terribly sad' by Sir Alasdair Milne, a former BBC director general. 'He's the most distinguished correspondent, known world-wide, that we have,' he said.

'His speech last year about the way the BBC is being run underwrote general anxiety at the BBC. People are being kicked out in the most extraordinary way. Recently there were reports that the BBC had saved millions of pounds. Well, you can do that by sacking 5,000 people but then you have to replace them.

'Losing people of great quality like him is not an exercise I would indulge in myself.'

Gillian Reynolds, chair of the Radio Academy Festival where Tully made his now-famous speech last year, expressed regret last night: 'I'm very sorry. I've missed his reporting but it was obvious he was being squeezed out.'

She confessed admiration for John Birt but said the heart was being torn from the BBC by his reforms. 'I admire him for sticking to the plan as he saw it but I deplore its impact on staff. A generation-and-a-half of expertise has been lost.'

Michael Buerk, the BBC newsreader who worked with Tully in India, said his resignation was 'sad': 'He is an institution in India and was everything a foreign correspondent should be.'