Princess Diana ‘Panorama’ Interview: Ex-BBC Director General Tony Hall Resigns From National Gallery Position
Former BBC director general Tony Hall has resigned from his position as chair of the U.K.’s National Gallery in the wake of the investigation over his role in the Princess Diana “Panorama” interview scandal.
“I have today resigned as chair of the National Gallery,” Hall said in a statement 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.”
“As I said two days ago, I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility.”
An independent investigation into a 1995 BBC Panorama interview with Princess Diana, conducted by journalist Martin Bashir, had found that the public broadcaster “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark.”
The findings of the Lord Dyson inquiry, which were published May 20, were also particularly critical of the role played by Hall, then the BBC’s head of news and current affairs. The 127-page report notes that Hall’s investigation into the matter at the time was “woefully ineffective.”
Reacting to the Dyson report, Hall had issued a statement on May 21. “I have read Lord Dyson’s report, and I accept that our investigation 25 years ago into how ‘Panorama’ secured the interview with Princess Diana fell well short of what was required,” Hall had said. “In hindsight, there were further steps we could and should have taken following complaints about Martin Bashir’s conduct. I was wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt, basing that judgment as I did on what appeared to be deep remorse on his part.”
“Throughout my 35-year career at the BBC, I have always acted in ways I believe were fair, impartial and with the public interest front and center,” Hall added. “While Lord Dyson does not criticize my integrity, I am sorry that our investigation failed to meet the standards that were required.”
Hall was appointed chair of the board of trustees of the National Gallery in January 2020 on the same day that it was announced that he was stepping down from the BBC director general position.
John Kingman, deputy chair of the National Gallery board of trustees, said: “Tony Hall has been doing a superb job as chair of the National Gallery, where he is much respected and liked. The Gallery is extremely sorry to lose him, but of course we entirely understand and respect his decision.”
“I would like to express my gratitude to Tony Hall for his excellent work as chair of trustees of the National Gallery,” said Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery. “He has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the Gallery and it has been a great pleasure to work closely with him as we have faced the challenges of COVID and as we prepare to mark the Gallery’s Bicentenary in 2024.”