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Former BBC chief resigns as National Gallery chair over Diana interview



Former BBC chief resigns as National Gallery chair over Diana interview


Former BBC director general Tony Hall resigned as chairman of the National Gallery on Saturday, following an investigation into the BBC’s 1995 interview with Britain’s Princess Diana.

Continuing in the post would be a “distraction to an institution I care deeply about,” Hall, who was director of BBC news at the time of the interview conducted by veteran journalist Martin Bashir, said in a statement released on Saturday.

“I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility,” he said.

His decision to quit from a high-profile post at one of the world’s most prestigious art museums comes as the BBC faces a barrage of criticism for how it handled an internal probe into the now-infamous interview.

“I have today resigned as chair of the National Gallery,” Hall stated in a statement to The Independent on Saturday.

“I have always had a strong sense of public service and it is clear my continuing in the role would be a distraction to an institution I care deeply about,” he said.


“As I said two days ago, I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility,” said Hall, who stepped down as BBC’s director-general in early 2020, after seven years on the job.

Since an official probe revealed that presenter Martin Bashir used “deceptive” techniques to gain his 1995 interview with Princess Diana, the BBC has faced concerns regarding Mr Bashir’s behavior, particularly why he was rehired in 2016 despite previous claims of dishonesty, and if Lord Hall was engaged in the rehiring process.

Hall has been a trustee of the National Gallery since November 2019, and in July 2020 he was appointed chairman of the board.

The newest development comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on Friday that he was “obviously very concerned” by the conclusions of the BBC probe into Princess Diana’s interview.

An inquiry into the blockbuster “BBC Panorama” interview determined earlier this week that Martin Bashir, a young and fairly unknown journalist at the time, used false documents and pretenses to secure the interview with one of the world’s most famous persons.

According to the 126-page report, an internal inquiry covered up the journalist’s “deceitful behavior.”

Tim Suter, who was also engaged in the inquiry that led to Mr Bashir’s exoneration, resigned from his position at Ofcom on Friday.

The National Gallery stated that it “understands and respects” Lord Hall’s decision to resign.

“Tony Hall has been doing a superb job as chair of the National National Gallery, where he is much respected and liked,” said Sir John Kingman, deputy chair of the National Gallery board of trustees.

“The gallery is extremely sorry to lose him, but of course we entirely understand and respect his decision.”

The Met Police have stated that they will review the findings of the investigation into former BBC journalist Martin Bashir’s conversation with Princess Diana to ensure that there is no “significant new evidence” to sustain a criminal probe.

The report “reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC,” British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden stated Thursday night, adding that he will “consider whether further governance reforms are needed”

Later that week, before the report was published, Bashir stated that he was resigning as the BBC’s religion editor “to focus on his health.”

The network, which has been heavily chastised for the failed investigation, has stated that it will return Bashir’s BAFTA TV Award for best talk program, which he earned in 1996.

Following Lord Dyson’s findings, MP Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, wanted guarantees from the BBC earlier this week.

“There are serious questions still left to answer,” he said. “Why was Martin Bashir rehired, with the BBC knowing what they knew?

“I want to know how the BBC can reassure the committee that there could be no repeat of the serious failings that have been highlighted by the Dyson report.”

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