Campbell rounds on the BBC
It seems Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s former director of communications, is out for his pound of flesh.
The man, who resigned his post after helping Tony Blair deal with the initial stages of the Government’s “war” against the BBC, has made his feelings known about the Prime Minister’s impugning.
Even though Mr Blair has now accepted the BBC’s apology for broadcasting Andrew Gilligan’s apparently sloppy and erroneous claim that someone in Downing Street “sexed up” a key intelligence dossier to strengthen the case for war against Iraq, Mr Campbell says what the BBC did was “unforgivable.”
But former BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland said it was not up to BBC governors to satisfy Mr Campbell’s “bloodlust.”
Sir Christopher said “Alastair Campbell’s a bloodthirsty creature but I don’t think it’s the job of the BBC and its governors to satisfy that bloodlust.
“He has the scalp of Gavyn Davies dangling from his belt and I think in all conscience that’s enough.”
However, later in the day director general Greg Dyke joined Gavyn Davies in handing in his notice.
But Mr Campbell said neither had he ‘decapitated’ the BBC nor was he responsible for the resignations of Mr Dyke and Mr Davies.
Mr Campbell said the BBC had brought the troubles upon itself because bad journalism lay at the root of the Dr Kelly affair.
‘The BBC got itself into the position it did. Greg Dyke’s resignation and Gavyn Davies’ resignation should help them get out of that.
“I am not and never have been anti-BBC.
‘The damage has been done has been done to itself and by itself by condoning bad journalism. The BBC should root out bad journalism where it exists.”
And Mr Campbell told Channel 4 last night “I haven’t met anybody today who is any longer saying that the story that was broadcast was sensible.
“In relation to the way the senior management dealt with it – they were saying to us, based upon complaints I was making on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government that they had looked into it properly and investigated it thoroughly.
“They never did any such thing. They decided that because it was me, Alastair Campbell making the complaint, that they weren’t even going to look into it.
“Round the world the Prime Minister’s integrity was being impugned. I think that’s unforgivable.
“It was a story that the BBC – the world’s foremost broadcast organisation – should never have allowed to be broadcast.’
Sir Christopher said he detected a certain “triumphalism” about Mr Campbell since the publication of Lord Hutton’s report.
Greg Dyke last night told staff at the BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today’ programme not to lose their collective nerve.
Mr Dyke urged colleagues at the BBC: ‘Don’t lose your nerve. What you do day in day out is incredibly important piece of journalism in this country.
‘You must feel shocked at the moment about Hutton and what it has meant, but all I say to you is don’t lose your nerve, just keep going, keep doing important pieces and important programmes.”
On the BBC’s Newsnight last night, Mr Dyke explained why he chose to resign: “I wish in retrospect that I had instead of working on Alastair Campbell’s timetable, I should have set up our own. That is where I made a mistake and that is why I am leaving.”
Separately, according to a poll of 29,000 viewers of the BBC One’s Question Time, 82 per cent said Mr Dyke should not have resigned.