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Greg Dyke

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Greg Dyke

Greg Dyke (born 20 May 1947) is a journalist and broadcaster. He was Director-General of the BBC from January 2000 until 29 January 2004 when he resigned following heavy criticism of the BBC's news reporting process in the Hutton Inquiry.

Contents

Early years

Dyke was educated at Hayes Grammar School. He worked briefly as a reporter for the Hillingdon Mirror before attending the University of York where he studied politics. He is now the University Chancellor.

Dyke was an active supporter of the Labour Party and in 1977 he attempted to win a seat on the Greater London Council for Labour at Putney. In later years he was a financial donor to the party.

Working in Television

After university Dyke moved into television. He worked first for London Weekend Television (LWT) before taking a job at TV-am in 1983. He was instrumental in reviving the breakfast show's fortunes by introducing Roland Rat, a hand puppet, to liven up the show. He later returned to LWT, making a fortune when Granada bought out the firm. Stints at Pearson television and five followed.

BBC and Hutton Enquiry

In 2000 he took over the helm of the BBC from John Birt. At the beginning of his tenure he famously promised to "cut the crap" at the corporation. The "crap" he referred to was the complex internal market Birt had introduced at the BBC which, it is claimed, took employees away from making programmes and into managers. Dyke reversed this trend - he reduced administration costs from 24% of total income to 15%.

Dyke resigned from the BBC on 29th January 2004, after the publication of the Hutton Report. Hutton described Dyke's approach to checking news stories as "defective"; when Alastair Campbell complained about the story, Dyke had immediately defended it without investigating whether there was any merit to the complaint.

In an email sent to all BBC staff just prior to his resignation Dyke wrote:

I accept that the BBC made errors of judgement and I've sadly come to the conclusion that it will be hard to draw a line under this whole affair while I am still here. We need closure. We need closure to protect the future of the BBC, not for you or me but for the benefit of everyone out there. It might sound pompous but I believe the BBC really matters.

It was subsequently established that Dyke had offered his resignation to the BBC's Board of Governors while hoping that they would reject it. However, he was only able to secure the support of about one-third of the Governors.

Some BBC staff felt that their organisation had been given too much blame in the David Kelly affair in the Hutton Report. Groups of staff stood outside Broadcasting House and other BBC centres across the country, protesting at the unfairness. Speaking on GMTV on 30 January Dyke himself questioned the conclusions of the report, saying "We were shocked it was so black and white [...] We knew mistakes had been made but we didn't believe they were only by us." He also claimed, without citing any reference or legal authority, that Lord Hutton (a distinguished Law Lord and Judge of many years standing) was "quite clearly wrong" on certain aspects of law relating to the case.

After the Hutton Enquiry

On November 28 2003 Greg Dyke was formally appointed by the University of York as its new Chancellor, replacing Dame Janet Baker, who had served in the post since November 1991. There was some controversy regarding his appointment in the midst of the Iraq Dossier scandal. He officially took the post in August 2004. In this role, he is the honorific and ceremonial head of the University, as well as heading the University Development Board. He has also made a personal grant to the new Department of Theatre, Film and Television, to found the Greg Dyke Chair in Film and Television. However, this post will not be filled until the construction of new, specially-designed facilities, intended to open in 2008.

On February 6 2004 Dyke announced that he had signed a six-figure book contract with HarperCollins. The book ("Inside Story"), subsequently published in September 2004, goes into detail about Dyke's opinion on the relationship between the BBC and the British government, and of the Dr David Kelly affair and Hutton Inquiry. It has had a poor critical reception. At the Cheltenham Literary Festival in October 2004, Dyke accused the government of "trying to kill" Andrew Gilligan.

The departure of Greg Dyke has echoes of the removal of Hugh Greene in 1969, who fell from the favour of Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson (against a background of the Vietnam War), in part due to Greene's defence of robust reporting, as well as his support for provocative and controversial material.

In July 2004 Dyke was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Sunderland and Middlesex University. In his acceptance speech for the latter, he attacked the government over its stance on the Iraq war heavily, and maintained that the Andrew Gilligan story was essentially true, the story government dossier was sexed up and that the government staged a "witch hunt" to deflect from the real issues surrounding the Iraq war.

On May 2 2005 the former Labour supporter Dyke went public at a Liberal Democrat press conference and said that "Democracy was under threat if Labour was elected for a third term".

External links

Preceded by:
John Birt
1992-2000
Director-General of the BBC
2000-Jan 2004
Followed by:
Mark Byford (Acting)
Jan 2004-June 2004
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