Former BBC director-general Tony Hall resigns as chair of the National Gallery following damning Lord Dyson report

Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen explains why Lord Hall stepped down from his role at the National Gallery

Former BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall has resigned as chair of the National Gallery amid the continuing turmoil over the corporation’s 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana.

In a statement, Lord Hall said his continued presence at the gallery would be “distraction” and he apologised for "the events of 25 years ago".

A damning report by Lord Dyson found the BBC covered up the “deceitful behaviour” of journalist Martin Bashir in the way he obtained the interview with the Princess of Wales and labelled a 1996 internal investigation conducted by Lord Hall, who was director of BBC news and current affairs when the Diana interview was screened, as "woefully ineffective".

Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen says he understands the government is "leaning on the BBC" to "re-look at the way they are governed"

In a statement Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE said: “I have today resigned as Chair of the National Gallery.

"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.”

The Lord Dyson report found Martin Bashir used 'deceitful behaviour' to secure the interview with Princess Diana.

Deputy Chair, Sir John Kingman, will assume the responsibilities of Chair of the National Gallery for the time being.

Lord Hall led the investigation which exonerated Bashir, even though he had previously admitted lying about the fake documents he used in obtaining the interview.

He was director-general when Bashir was controversially rehired by the BBC as religious affairs correspondent in 2016 and later promoted to religion editor.

The Lord Dyson inquiry found the BBC "fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark" in the way the interview with Diana was obtained.

Mr Bashir commissioned fake bank statements and used "deceitful behaviour" in a "serious breach" of the BBC's producer guidelines to secure his Panorama interview, the inquiry concluded.

Martin Bashir commissioned fake bank statements to secure the interview with Princess Diana. Credit: PA

The journalist, who left the BBC last week citing health reasons, showed the bank statements to Diana’s brother, which purported to show payments into the bank account of Alan Waller, a former employee of Earl Spencer, Commander Patrick Jephson, Diana’s private secretary, and Commander Richard Aylard, private secretary to the Prince of Wales, according to Lord Dyson.

The report said: “By showing Earl Spencer the fake Waller and Jephson/Aylard statements and informing him of their contents, Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana. By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview.”

What were the key findings in Lord Dyson's report?

  • Mr Bashir commissioned fake bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer

  • Mr Bashir produced and showed the bank statements to Earl Spencer which contained information that had probably been fabricated by Mr Bashir

  • He acted to deceive Earl Spencer and induce him to arrange for Mr Bashir to meet Princess Diana

  • By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, he was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview

  • Behaving as described above, Mr Bashir acted inappropriately and in serious breach of the BBC's Producers’ Guidelines on straight dealing

His resignation comes after another former BBC executive involved in the 1996 internal investigation, Tim Suter, announced on Friday that he was stepping down from his board role with media watchdog Ofcom.The chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Julian Knight has called on current director-general Tim Davie to provide a full explanation as to how Mr Bashir came to be re-employed in 2016.

Mr Knight said that some people may suspect that the journalist was given the religion job as a way of keeping quiet about what exactly he knew.

“That is certainly something which some may be suspicious about,” Mr Knight told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“If they knew he had lied previously and also he’d had to resign from a mediocre American network, why was he good enough for the BBC?

“I just want transparency and answers from the BBC,” he added.

Mr Knight said the BBC should now consider paying compensation to “whistleblowers” who had had their careers damaged after raising concerns about the way Bashir had operated.

He pointed to the case of graphic designer Matt Wiessler, who was sidelined after informing BBC bosses that Bashir had asked him to mock up a series of fake bank statements.

Also on Friday, the prime minister said the BBC should take "every possible step to make sure nothing like this ever happens again".

As pressure on the broadcaster grows, Boris Johnson said he was "very concerned" by the findings of the report, adding it is "up to the BBC now to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again."

Following the release of the report, the Duke of Cambridge blamed BBC leaders for failing his mother after the "deceitful" interview.

Watch Prince William's statement in full:

Prince Harry said in a statement that the "ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life".

The Duke of Sussex revealed the depths of his grief in the aftermath of his mother's death in 1997, saying he drank and took drugs to mask his feelings.

Listen to The Royal Rota podcast from ITV News