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Dyke thought complaint was 'another Campbell rant'

LONDON - Greg Dyke has said that he initially thought Alastair Campbell's complaints about the weapons of mass destruction story on the 'Today' programme, which led to the Hutton Report, was 'just another rant'.

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He made the comments a day after resigning as director-general of the BBC in the wake of the report's findings, which cleared the government of wrongdoing and was highly critical of the broadcaster.

Speaking on the 'Today' programme this morning, Dyke accused Campbell of running a campaign to control the BBC's coverage of the war in Iraq and said that he had been "remarkably ungracious" since the publication of the Hutton Report this week.

In the interview, he said he regretted his decision to respond to Campbell's complaints about defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan's May 29 report immediately and that he should have conducted an internal inquiry.

"Instead I felt that the attack on our journalism was such that it required a quick, public reply," he said.

Dyke refused to go into details about whether or not he accepted the findings of the Hutton Report -- although he admitted that he did not agree with some of it. "I will at some stage give you a considered view, but now is not the time," he said, adding that it might be two days or two weeks before he responds.

As well as being director-general of the BBC, Dyke held the title editor-in-chief. He rubbished the notion that this meant he could check all of the corporation's output and said he did not think that the editorial process were defective, but that an independent review of the process would be useful.

In an interview with GMTV, Dyke said that Campbell had been "ungracious" in the wake of the report and that he was shocked the report was "so black and white."

"We knew mistakes had been made but we didn't believe they were only by us. I would be interested in what a few other law lords, on looking at Hutton, thought of it," he told GMTV.

Dyke revealed on the 'Today' programme that he had tended his resignation on Wednesday, the same day that chairman Gavyn Davies resigned, but that he was uncertain if the board of governors would accept or not.

His departure from the BBC has been met with widespread anger from the corporation's employees, many of whom staged an impromptu walkout yesterday afternoon. It has also left the two most senior positions at the BBC open and widespread opinion that the corporation is in crisis.

Tessa Jowell, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said that both Dyke and Davies were honourable people, who had done the honourable thing.

"It is also the right thing for the BBC, for the public it serves and for their own integrity. But enough is enough, it is now time to move on," she said.

Jowell vowed that at the next BBC Charter Review, due to take place in 2006, would result in a strong BBC that would be "the best broadcaster in the world".

"And that BBC is nobody's lapdog. That challenges government and raises debate. That is in all our interests," she concluded.

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