February 01, 2004


The Observer/Guardian reports:

Some of the BBC's biggest names are considering quitting in protest at the attitude of its acting chairman and the greatest-ever threat to their journalistic independence.

Journalistic independence? The BBC is taxpayer-funded. It’s dependent on public money. They want independence, go private.

Leading figures including Joan Bakewell, Ben Brown, Gavin Esler, Jonathan Ross, John Simpson and Jeremy Vine were among 10,000 BBC employees who backed a newspaper advert yesterday, expressing 'dismay' at the loss of Dyke and vowing their commitment to a 'fearless search for truth'.

And a fearless denial of same.

A number of distinguished BBC personalities explained their concerns to The Observer but insisted that, given the tension with their employers, they wished to remain anonymous. 'An awful lot of people feel Ryder went much too far with his apology,' said one. 'We don't need to abase ourselves. Quite a lot of people are anxious there will be too much timidity from now on. That's what Greg Dyke meant when he said we shouldn't be cowed.’

Dyke, by the way, claims the whole board was ready to resign:

The entire BBC board considered quitting in the wake of the Hutton Report, Greg Dyke revealed today.

The former director-general said he urged them not to resign because it would leave the BBC with no one in charge.

There were people in charge? Like, repressive figures of authority or something? Please, tell the angry protesters denouncing Hutton’s findings:

Waving posters that read "Bliar," the demonstrators also burned a copy of the report by senior judge Lord Hutton, which harshly criticized the BBC for alleging the government knowingly hyped the threat from Iraqi arms.

"The report is exactly the whitewash and the establishment cover-up that we predicted, with a cherry on top," said George Galloway, a member of Parliament vehemently opposed to the war who was expelled from Blair's Labour party last year.

Talk about a whitewash! No mention in that report of Galloway’s, er, friendship with Saddam Hussein, or the oil money allegations. BBC media correspondent Nick Higham advises closing down debate:

It's now in the BBC's interests not to keep the debate about the Hutton report open, but to close it down and move on.

It wants to re-establish trust in the organisation, re-establish credibility and do whatever needs to be done to put right the admitted errors.

The problem for the BBC at the moment is that there are people like Andrew Gilligan and Greg Dyke, who have left, who are not going to let it rest.

They want to keep it open and although the BBC denies it, I think that is potentially rather awkward.

Really? You think so? Awkward indeed was Richard Ackland’s attack on Hutton, skilfully sliced apart by Professor Bunyip. Let the BBC debate roll on!

Posted by Tim Blair at February 1, 2004 11:04 PM

It's a Right To Lie protest!

Posted by: EvilPundit at February 1, 2004 at 11:52 PM

Moving on? What agood idea. Meanwhile the comedy department at the BBC has produced the following: Viva Greg! Viva BBC Libre! It features a graphic of Dyke as Che Guevara, with long hair and the BBC logo on his beret. The accompanying text proclaims: "A tribute to our departed DG by the Comedy team. Yes, we're drawing a line under it, and yes, we're very sorry. But we like Greg. he was a geezer. N.B. Other political opinions are available at all good newsagents".

Yeah, what a geezer. He's a geezer, mate. Trust him.

Posted by: William Aris at February 2, 2004 at 12:03 AM

Sorry. Here's the URL - http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/blog/viva_greg.shtml

Posted by: William at February 2, 2004 at 12:06 AM

The BBC is getting support from George Galloway? This whole debacle is getting funnier. Support from him isn't something they want. I mean, take a look at the last prominent people he was associated with.

Posted by: Wilbur at February 2, 2004 at 12:54 AM

The hardest thing, I suppose, is to admit that one was wrong.

Posted by: Barry at February 2, 2004 at 01:06 AM

I am loving this. The Beeb is coming unglued. Good. It's the most malevolent institution of any substance in Britain today.

Posted by: David Gillies at February 2, 2004 at 01:45 AM

Wilbur said:

The BBC is getting support from George Galloway? ... Support from him isn't something they want. I mean, take a look at the last prominent people he was associated with.
No, Wilbur, that applies to normal people. We wouldn't want support from the likes of Galloway, because of the "last prominent people he was associated with." The Beeb, on the other hand, would want it precisely because of that.

Posted by: Barbara Skolaut at February 2, 2004 at 02:11 AM

Perhaps quitting BBC staffers can be replaced by quitting Iranian MP's, because the latter apparently support freedom. On second thought, the qualifications are such that outright job swaps might be in order.

Posted by: Bob71 at February 2, 2004 at 02:37 AM

"Some of the BBC's biggest names are considering quitting in protest at the attitude of its acting chairman and the greatest-ever threat to their journalistic independence."

And this is bad because?...

Posted by: madne0 at February 2, 2004 at 03:00 AM

All of this would be laughable nonsense if it wasn't so painfully pathetic.

I wonder how many of the BBC staff read any of the Hutton report? I have read much of it, and it is exhaustive, nuanced, eminently fair and impartial. What it isn't is a "whitewash" or an apologia for HMG. To suggest otherwise is both odious and risible.

I must also emphasize the absurdity that Gilligan, et al. refer to themselves as "victims!"

Herein lies the essential elements of their folly: Gilligan was reckless, wantonly so, in his behavior; his superiors including the Director and the Governing Board were utterly derelict in their duty to perform due diligence and vett their reporter's story; the BBC was beligerent in their insistence in their being correct on the matter; and when demanded to be held accountable for their misbehavior they cry foul and declare themselves victims!

Victimhood precludes their being responsible for their actions, hence their total lack of remorse. Gilligan and the others who have resigned (not sacked mind you) have not asked for forgiveness (demonstrating remorse or contrition.)

I'm with you Tim: To the entire Governing Board and the tens of thousands of victimized BBC employees, "Go ahead and resign!"

Posted by: MeTooThen at February 2, 2004 at 05:46 AM

There is one actual victim of this affair that none of the BBC people are talking about: David Kelly.

Posted by: saltydog at February 2, 2004 at 06:59 AM


Had Gilligan not made the claim regarding the changing of the JIC dossier, and attributing to Dr. Kelly what Dr. Kelly later denied ever having said, then perhaps Dr. Kelly would still be alive today.

Here too, the Hutton report exonerates Blair and HMG in their confirmation of Dr. Kelly as being the anonymous Gilligan source, but rightly takes exception to the way in which Dr. Kelly was himself notified by the MoD as to the fact that his name was to be made public.

The final and penultimate paragraphs of the Hutton report are left to praise Dr. Kelly's life work and fittingly (if not tragically) recognizes him as being a National Hero.

Posted by: MeTooThen at February 2, 2004 at 08:01 AM

The BBC lied, Kelly died.

Posted by: perfectsense at February 2, 2004 at 09:17 AM

Funny, but I don't remember anyone on the Left pointing out Hutton's oh-so-obvious biases ("he's an Orangeman and a judge, ergo he's a right-wing stooge") before Hutton delivered his report. On the contrary, the only comments I came across were all to the tune of "Tony Blair must be quaking in fear at what this fearless and impartial judge will uncover". Funnily enough, Hutton's "prejudices" only became apparent after he gave his verdict.

(I also heard that Hutton, while a judge in Northern Ireland, had acquitted a surprisingly number of alleged IRA operatives on procedural grounds. Annoying results, but they do show the guy is a stickler for following the rules).

Posted by: Uncle Milk at February 2, 2004 at 09:23 AM

let me get this right.
Big Al has been caught previously 'sexing up' a pro-war document but is given the benefit of the doubt this time.
The Intelligence chief talks to Big Al quite a lot before writing the final document but this is passed over.

There is only one source for the 45 minute claim by a person who David Kelley said had provided only bad or poor intelligence but this is good enough to go public on.

The Defence minister organises so not even Piers Ackerman could not realise that Mr kelley was the 'quoted' man but this is glossed over.

No wonder my daft leftie mates believe in conspiracies. Either Hutton is the most naive Law Lord ever born or he delights in giving the benefit of the doubt to the Government of the day.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at February 2, 2004 at 09:49 AM

Homer Paxton,
Go on back to your playground. You got the logic skills of a 3rd grade gossip - 'He said she said so they must have, you know!'.

I'd tell you to read Huttons report, but it be a waste of my time - cause you ain't got the intellectual muscle to get past the first two pages.

If'n you hurry you can run and catch Sesame street - it be showin on ABC just about now. You feel more at home there boy, calm you down. You won't feel so stressed out anymore ...

Posted by: Arik at February 2, 2004 at 10:07 AM

Don't wait for them to resign, sack the lot of them now and close it down.

Posted by: freddyboy at February 2, 2004 at 11:31 AM

I'm all in favour of sacking all the liars.

As long as we start at the top. We'll get to the dweebs at the Beeb eventually, but we'll start with Bush, Blair, Howard, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell, Rice...

Or is it OK for them to lie?

(Any cutting reposts which start from a premise that these unworthies did not in fact lie will be met with genuine laughter before they are dismissed with contempt and/or pity.)

Posted by: Nemesis at February 2, 2004 at 12:21 PM

School must have just let out -- Nemmie's on a roll.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 2, 2004 at 12:40 PM

perhaps Arik it would have assisted to have gone through the proceedings.

They appear to be at odds with the report's findings.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at February 2, 2004 at 12:49 PM

School must have just let out -- Nemmie's on a roll.

Nah, they just let him out of the looney bin. Nemmie's never been to school

Posted by: Quentin George at February 2, 2004 at 03:49 PM

We can all sleep soundly now that Thom "Stop Buying My Records You Bastards" Yorke has weighed in on the matter:


Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 2, 2004 at 03:51 PM
(Any cutting reposts which start from a premise that these unworthies did not in fact lie will be met with genuine laughter before they are dismissed with contempt and/or pity.)

Mighty opened minded if you.

Posted by: cannon at February 2, 2004 at 08:40 PM

Usually when you call someone a liar, you show some evidence. Wheres the beef? Nemmie

(I, unlike Nemesis, actually have one instance of Pres. Bush prefabricating.) He has said on numerous occasions that Islam is a religion of peace. LIAR

Posted by: Papertiger at February 2, 2004 at 10:27 PM

Nemesis, what about the advocates for illegal immigrants who lie through their teeth daily about the so-called "refugees" who pay big bucks for their boatrides, destroy all their immigration documentation and lie about their country of origin (only after being coached in their stories, mind you).

And how is it that the left always whinges about the so-called "children overboard" affair but ignores the boat that was deliberately set on fire by its occupants at the same time.

Yes, as you say lets sack the liars in order but we would have to go a long way down before we got to the Prime Minister - there are far bigger lies being told in Australia now.

I know this is going on about something that happened 3 years ago - the apalling bias in the media over this issue still makes me angry though.

Posted by: john at February 2, 2004 at 10:28 PM

and on another tack, perhaps Robert Kilroy-Silk will res ... oh that's right, he's already gone.

Posted by: john at February 2, 2004 at 10:34 PM

No John, the BBC only sacks you for telling Politically Incorrect truths.

If you blatently lie in a politically correct way it's OK, until the report catches you out, then it's bullying.


Posted by: Rob Read at February 3, 2004 at 04:17 AM

This is like our own Alec Baldwin promising to go into self-exile if we rubes elected GWB president. Only the most self-deluded BBC mandarins believe they could ever find meaningful work in the private sector. Baldwin remains burrowed into the Beverly Hills. None of the BBC's folks have the guts to quit. To stray to a fictional example, this as empty a threat as Major Hot Lips Houlihan resigning her commission.

Posted by: Billy Hank at February 3, 2004 at 07:26 AM