Birt 'tried to block Grade's BBC job'

Tony Blair was told by Lord Birt that his choice of Michael Grade as BBC chairman earlier this year was the "worst public appointment" he had ever made. John Birt's intervention is revealed by Greg Dyke in the latest instalment of his score-settling memoirs.

Tony Blair was told by Lord Birt that his choice of Michael Grade as BBC chairman earlier this year was the "worst public appointment" he had ever made. John Birt's intervention is revealed by Greg Dyke in the latest instalment of his score-settling memoirs.

Mr Grade was given the job after Mr Dyke and Gavyn Davies were forced to resign from the top two BBC jobs in the wake of the Hutton Report.

But a furious behind-the-scenes row over the appointment is laid bare by the former director-general of the BBC.

He claims: "Birt fought against Grade's appointment, tried to influence Tessa Jowell and, when he lost, sent a letter to Tony Blair telling him that Grade's was the worst public appointment he had made since becoming Prime Minister."

The intervention of Birt, himself a former BBC director general, will once again raise questions over his role as a Downing Street advisor.

Number 10 has repeatedly resisted answering questions about his accountability from those concerned at the extent of his influence

Further revelations suggesting that Mr Blair attempted to browbeat the Corporation will be unveiled in a Channel 4 documentary timed to coincide with the release of Mr Dyke's book, Inside Story, later this month.

Mr Dyke also claims that the Prime Minister told Mr Davies that Alastair Campbell, the former Number 10 director of communications who drove the campaign against the BBC, was "a bit off the ranch".

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