The news of the revelations about the BBC interview with Princess Diana, is like finding out that your favourite uncle is a brutal wife-beater. The Dyson report cannot but severely damage the reputation of the corporation and provide copious ammunition to the anti-BBC brigade. The British right-wing press, with the Daily Hate Mail and Torygraph in the vanguard, are probably sharpening their pens in glee, preparing an all-out assault on the hated Beeb and its effrontery in daring occasionally to criticise government ministers and their running of the country.
Michael Grade—sometime chairman of the BBC—who commented on the Dyson report on the Today programme this morning is that rare animal, a conservative who takes an apparently non-partisan and constructive position on the BBC. He emphasised the extreme seriousness of the situation, and pointed to the governance of the corporation being at fault and the need for an editorial board capable of holding journalists properly to account. He also stated what he has said many times before, that most political parties think the BBC is biased against them, the implication being that it is broadly balanced. He said that he did not think the government would use the affair as a ‘lever to bash’ the BBC over the charter renewal; ‘The public wouldn’t stand for it.’ I hope that is true.
Nevertheless the Dyson report's conclusions in respect of the deception, and particularly over the subsequent cover-up, severely dent the Beeb’s reputation for honesty and probity. Lord Reith must be turning in his grave.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs