When Tony Blair decided to take Britain to war against Iraq whatever the cost, Greg Dyke would have been forgiven for not anticipating that he would be one of the most controversial casualties of the conflict.
Furthermore, few would have predicted that the tragic death of a MoD scientist would have propelled the BBC into what many see as the gravest crisis in its history.
However, a relaxed Greg Dyke dismissed claims that the BBC or the British media in general will be permanently damaged. He told nouse “I think the Hutton report will have no real long term impact. People widely recognise that he got it wrong.”
This stance has recently put Dyke at odds with his ex-employers, whose apologetic governors have been decidedly cool about supporting the departing DG’s statements over the affair. Dyke, who hit back at the Government as soon as he had left the BBC’s Shepherd’s Bush headquarters still remained unrepentant almost two weeks later when nouse caught up with him. Openly critical of the Law Lord’s knowledge of media law and the one-sided report which exonerated Blair and Campbell, Dyke stood by his previous comments. “I said it at the time, and I stand by what I said then,” he said.
When quizzed over the identity of a likely successor, Dyke was unwilling to comment. However, following the events of the last few weeks he joked that he doubted the BBC would ever want him back now. “It’s extremely unlikely. What’s done is done.”
Despite all this, Dyke seems to be holding back some of his criticisms, refusing to be drawn into discussing whether he felt he had been forced out.
Equally, he was unprepared to respond to his predecessor Lord Birt’s recent outburst in the Lords, only stating that it was “inappropriate for me to say anything on this.” Answers to these questions will presumably be revealed in his forthcoming book, to be published in September by HarperCollins.
Victoria Barnsley, Chief Executive of the publishers, promised that the six figure book deal would make “undoubtedly fascinating and controversial” reading, while sources within the company say they are expecting “explosive revelations about the relationship between the Government and BBC.”
Besides the book deal Dyke claimed to have no further literary ambitions “it’s one book, that’s it.”
With all this new-found time on his hands, an enthusiastic Dyke believes he will be able to dedicate more time to his position as York Chancellor. “I am very proud to have my connections with York. I believe it’s quite possible that by not being DG, I will be able to dedicate more time to assisting the University and fulfilling my duties.”
Dyke, who will succeed Dame Janet Baker as Chancellor, was as positive about the job as when nouse spoke to him last November when he accepted the post, saying, “York gave me a chance in life.”
Following the fallout from Hutton, the University has issued several press statements, steadfastly backing the new Chancellor, a stance reiterated by the University Press and Publicity Officer, Hilary
Layton, who told nouse that, “plans to appoint Greg Dyke remain unnafected by recent events.”
Dyke, in turn recognised that “the University has been very supportive,” stating “I fully intend to take up my position in Autumn 2004.”
He also thanked York as a whole, admitting he was touched by nouse’s revelation of the BBC Radio York walkout in his support, a move that has been echoed throughout the country as staff have mounted a campaign to reinstate him.