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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea