Lord Ryder in centre of BBC storm

FORMER Ipswich Town director Lord Ryder was today in the eye of the nation's political storm as he took over as acting chairman of the BBC.Lord Ryder has been deputy chairman of the beseiged corporation for two years.

FORMER Ipswich Town director Lord Ryder was today in the eye of the nation's political storm as he took over as acting chairman of the BBC.

Lord Ryder has been deputy chairman of the beseiged corporation for two years.

Today he was chairing a crisis meeting of its governors after chairman Gavyn Davies quit after the BBC was damned by the Hutton inquiry.

Lord Ryder was left holding the fort as speculation mounted that further key BBC staff may follow suit.


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It was a case of out of the frying pan and into fire for the former Tory MP, who resigned from the Town board last year after the turbulence of administration.

Lord Ryder was MP for Mid Norfolk between 1983 and 1997, ending up as the Conservative chief whip during the Maastricht hiatus.

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So he's no stranger to being caught in the glare of political headlights.

The 54-year-old is known for being "unflappable" and was seen by his political colleagues as a safe pair of hands.

Since leaving the House of Commons, he has taken no active role in party politics although he does sit on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords.

In a dramatic statement last night Mr Davies said he took responsibility but questioned the law lord's findings into the death of Dr David Kelly.

And defiant director general Greg Dyke defended the "greater part" of the report that sparked the war with Downing Street.

That angered former Number 10 media chief Alastair Campbell, who last night said the BBC was "making matters worse for themselves'.

"I think they should just face the facts. Lord Hutton has set out the facts. The BBC should face them,' he said.

Those facts were yesterday revealed as an unequivocal vindication of Tony Blair and his Government.

The peer's inquiry concluded BBC claims that Downing Street "sexed-up' a dossier on Iraqi weapons were "unfounded'.

Reporter Andrew Gilligan was wrong to claim Number 10 inserted intelligence knowing it was suspect, he said.

And there was no "underhand' Government strategy to expose Dr Kelly as the source for his Radio 4 Today programme report.

Critically Lord Hutton went further, calling BBC editorial procedures that allowed the report to be broadcast "defective'.

Worse for the Corporation, he criticised both managers and governors for not investigating the Government's complaints.

Mr Davies last night told fellow governors: "I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee, and that the referee's decision is final.

"There is an honourable tradition in British public life that those charged with authority at the top of an organisation should accept responsibility for what happens in that organisation.'

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