Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The BBC, Post-Hutton

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The BBC, Post-Hutton

Article excerpt

THE POLL commissioned by the Evening Standard on public reaction to the Hutton report reveals widespread disquiet with the report's conclusions.

Half those questioned regarded it as unconvincing; almost as many thought it a whitewash for the Government. Significantly, a third of respondents said they were now less likely to vote Labour.

And a substantial 56 per cent felt that it was unfair that the report overwhelmingly blamed the BBC. The feelings reflected by the poll are widely shared. The public's instinct, that Lord Hutton failed adequately to deal with inconsistencies in the Government's account of its handling of the Kelly affair - and did not deal at all with the wider questions concerning the basis on which we went to war - will be bolstered by the late submission of David Kelly's widow. She insists that the Government must take some of the blame for her husband's death. Yet the Hutton report damned the BBC's journalism and management, and it was, accordingly, inevitable that someone should resign.

In the event it was the the co-Chairman, Gavyn Davies, who did so. The Director General, Greg Dyke, and the BBC's head of news, Richard Sambrook, also find their jobs precariously hanging in the balance. Yesterday was a wretched day for the BBC. It is right that some heads at Broadcasting House should roll. Mr Davies is an honourable man and in many ways the BBC will be a poorer place without him. But several issues raised by Lord Hutton's report go far beyond the careers of a few executives. They will be used by some of the Corporation's enemies - in Whitehall and in rival media organisations - to call for root and branch changes at the BBC which could endanger its future as the nation's public service broadcaster. These must be firmly resisted - especially at a time when the Corporation's charter is up for renewal. …

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