This is the BBC... its leaders gone, its staff up in arms

Greg Dyke reluctantly quits as director general. Blair signals an end to eight-month dispute

The turmoil at the BBC caused by the Hutton inquiry deepened yesterday when the corporation bowed to pressure from the Government for a full apology and Greg Dyke resigned as director general.

The board of governors voted by a margin of two to one to dismiss Mr Dyke, forcing him to stand down.

Many BBC staff were angry and demoralised that Lord Hutton's investigation into the death of David Kelly had claimed a second scalp, following Wednesday's resignation of the chairman, Gavyn Davies.

After an emotional departure by Mr Dyke, there were spontaneous demonstrations by hundreds of staff who walked out at Broadcasting House and Television Centre in London. Staff also stopped work at 11 BBC regional offices around the UK.

After Downing Street raised the stakes by demanding a fuller apology from the BBC, Lord Ryder of Wensum, the acting chairman, said the corporation apologised unreservedly for the allegation by its reporter Andrew Gilligan that Downing Street "sexed up" a dossier on Iraqi weapons. Later, Tony Blair and the BBC tried to lower the temperature by promising to "draw a line" under the dispute. But ministers scented blood, with some saying privately that Richard Sambrook, the BBC director of news, should resign or be moved for failing to brief the board of governors properly about Mr Gilligan's report, which Lord Hutton described as "unfounded".

At the Cabinet's weekly meeting, ministers congratulated Mr Blair on his vindication by Lord Hutton.

Although Downing Street insisted there was "no gloating", Mr Blair's spokesman said the Cabinet's message was that serious issues, such as Iraqi weapons, should be discussed without impugning politicians' integrity.

Some MPs expressed concern that the Government would use its victory to undermine the BBC's editorial independence and put pressure on the rest of the media. Worried by the backlash among BBC staff, ministers promised they would do nothing to put the BBC's independence at risk.

Mr Dyke ­ who is succeeded by his deputy, Mark Byford, as acting director general ­ fell on his sword reluctantly. He told staff who walked out to support him: "I don't want to go. But if, in the end, you screw up, you have to go."

He said he was not "a political animal" but hoped the resignations of the two senior figures at the BBC meant "a line can be drawn under this whole episode".

Lord Ryder, a former Tory minister, who said he did not want the chairman's job permanently, said: "The BBC must move forward in the wake of Lord Hutton's report, which highlighted serious defects in the corporation's processes and procedures. 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."

Mr Blair welcomed the BBC's statement. "This, for me, has always been a simple matter of an accusation that was very serious. It has now been withdrawn, that is all I ever wanted," he said. "I want to make it absolutely clear I fully respect the independence of the BBC. I have no doubt the BBC will continue, as it should do, to probe and question the Government in every proper way. What this does is allow us to draw a line and move on."

Downing Street denied the Government had demanded the head of Mr Davies and Mr Dyke, both Labour supporters. It said: "They decided to resign and the Prime Minister believes two decent and honourable men have done the decent and honourable thing."

Alastair Campbell, the former communications director at No 10, signalled an end to his personal battle with the BBC. He told Sky News last night: "I'm content with the fact that finally, after all that everybody's had to go through, these allegations have been withdrawn. It's for the BBC to decide whether having somebody like Andrew Gilligan on their payroll is a way to restore their integrity and reputation."

The National Union of Journalists, Mr Gilligan's union, said that he wanted to remain at the corporation.

There was continuing surprise that Lord Hutton had come down so heavily on the BBC while acquitting the Government of almost every charge. Sir Christopher Bland, a former BBC chairman, said there was a "curious imbalance" in a report that exonerated the Government but "tarred and feathered the BBC". He said: "It is legitimate to question whether Hutton was even-handed in the way he treated, on the one hand, politicians, civil servants and the security services and, on the other hand, the standards of conduct he applied to journalists and broadcasters."

Lord Rees-Mogg, a former BBC vice-chairman, said: "I don't have any confidence in Hutton ... I have already come to the conclusion his evidence does not support his conclusions and that it is, put quite simply, a bad bit of work."

In a separate development, Nicholas Gardiner, the Oxfordshire coroner, said he was ready to examine statements from witnesses who withheld their evidence from the Hutton inquiry and would ask Thames Valley Police to hand over the missing material. He will then consider Lord Hutton's report and decide within the next month whether to hold a full inquest into Dr Kelly's death.

A poll found yesterday that a majority of people thought Lord Hutton's report was wrong to lay all the blame at the BBC's door. The poll, by NOP, showed 56 per cent thought the peer was wrong to blame only the BBC; 49 per cent said the report was a whitewash, with 40 per cent disagreeing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea