The Hutton Report claimed its second BBC scalp today when director general Greg Dyke resigned, hours after Tony Blair's spokesman demanded a fresh apology after the Hutton report.
Mr Dyke quit a day after Gavyn Davies stood down as chairman of the BBC governors.
Speaking on the steps of Broadcasting House, Mr Dyke said: "With the departure of Gavyn and myself and the apology I issued on behalf of the BBC yesterday I hope that a line can drawn under this whole episode."
The decision emerged this afternoon after the remaining governors gathered at Broadcasting House in central London for crisis talks.
Lord Ryder, the BBC's acting chairman, said after that meeting: "On behalf of the BBC I have no hesitation in apologising unreservedly for our errors and to the individuals whose reputations were affected by them
"The appointment of director general is solely a matter for the BBC's Board of Governors. Both roles are essential to a strong and independent BBC and it is important that the vacancies created by the departures of Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke are filled as soon as possible and with due care.
"The departures of Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke will be regretted throughout the BBC. Their contributions to the organisation in terms of strong, dynamic leadership are beyond doubt. I would like to place on record the appreciation of the Board of Governors for their services to the BBC."
After Lord Ryder's statement, Mr Blair said: "This for me has alway been a very simple matter of an accusation that was a very serious one that was made. It has now been withdrawn, that is all I ever wanted."
He added: "I want to make it absolutely clear I fully respect the independence of the BBC. I have no doubt that the BBC will continue as it should do to probe and question the Government in every proper way. What thisdoes now is allow us to draw a line and move on."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman had earlier rejected yesterday's televised statement by Mr Dyke, in which he apologised for mistakes made in reporter Andrew Gilligan's controversial Today programme broadcast last year.
Mr Blair's spokesman said: "We still want an apology. The BBC should apologise for broadcasting a false allegation which was unfounded.
"In terms of what Greg Dyke said yesterday it does not amount to a considered statement from the BBC governors and that's what we need."
Mr Dyke faced a media scrum as he read out his statement with the BBC's own staff among the crowd who had been waiting all morning for more reaction from the corporation.
He initially went back inside as camera crews surged towards him and could be seen laughing while holding a sheaf of copies of his statement, obviously amused by the massive media attention. Then he came outside again to read it.
Mr Dyke said: "I am proud of what we have achieved together over the last four years and with the departure of Gavyn and myself, and the apology I issued on behalf of the BBC yesterday, I hope that a line can now be drawn under this whole episode.
"Throughout this affair my sole aim as director general of the BBC has been to defend our editorial independence and to act in the public interest."
Mr Dyke continued: "These are the e–mails I have received just this morning from people inside the BBC asking me not to go.
"I'll just read you one because it moved me: 'No matter what the future brings please know that you have made us proud to be part of the BBC and we will support you whatever you do."Reuse content