Dyke hits out at Hutton, says report full of errors

MUMBAI: Any hopes that 10 Downing Street may have harboured that Gerg Dyke, dubbed "Tony's Crony" when he took the reins at the BBC four years ago, would quietly ride away into the sunset look certain to be dashed.

A day after he quit as BBC director-general, Dyke, who'd said his resignation should draw the line under the Kelly affair as far as the rest of the BBC top management were concerned, fired his first salvo.

Speaking on BBC radio and GMTV television, Dyke said he did not accept all of Lord Brian Hutton's report into the death of weapons expert David Kelly, saying it was lacking in balance and tainted with errors.

"I would be very interested to see what other law lords looking at Hutton thought of it. There are points of law in there in which he is quite clearly wrong," Dyke said.

Dyke said he agreed with the departing BBC chairman, Gavyn Davies, that one could not "choose the referee" and had to accept his decision, but quipped: "The government did choose the referee."

Dyke also blasted prime minister Tony Blair's former spokesperson and chief spinmaster Alastair Campbell, calling him "remarkably ungracious" for the tenor of his comments in a series of interviews that he gave yesterday. A clearly gloating Campbell stated he had always told the truth and that he had been vindicated by Hutton.

Vindicated by Hutton maybe, but certainly but not so by the British public. A YouGov poll in the Daily Telegraph found that 56 per cent of Britons believed Hutton's report was a "whitewash", and that 67 per cent trusted BBC journalists compared with 31 per cent who trusted Blair's government.

The public response to the whole sorry affair as well as the outpouring of spontaneous support that came from across the rank and file of the BBC might well explain the combative stance that Dyke has taken the "morning after typhoon Hutton" left the Beeb desperately trying to find its bearings again. Dyke's resignation triggered walkouts and demonstrations by hundreds of BBC staff around Britain.

A comment made last night by John Tusa, the former head of BBC World Service, and reported in The Guardian is relevant in this context. Tusa has been quoted as saying he believed the government's satisfaction with resignations at the top of the BBC could backfire.

Tusa noted that Dyke had offered an apology on Wednesday when the Hutton report came out, but that he had backtracked on Thursday, questioning the governors' decision to offer an unreserved apology for the way the corporation handled the Kelly affair.

"If I were the government, I would say this is an argument which is not going to go away, because the two most dangerous men involved are out there and they have got an argument to make," Tusa was quoted by The Guardian as telling BBC2's Newsnight.

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