Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, has resigned from his role of chair of the National Gallery, London. He had been a trustee of the organisation since November 2019 and became chair in July 2020.
Hall was the director of news when Martin Bashir faked documents in order to gain access to Princess Diana before he conducted the infamous BBC Panorama interview with her in 1995.
An independent inquiry by former senior judge John Dyson, which was published last week, found that Bashir was dishonest and deceitful, and that the BBC fell short of its high standards when answering questions about the interview.
Hall led an initial internal review into how the interview had come about in 1996 but found nothing out of order and exonerated Bashir.
Hall was director-general of the BBC from 2013 until August 2020, during which time Bashir was rehired – after roles at other television channels including ITV, ABC and NBC in the years between – as religious affairs correspondent in 2016.
Hall said of his resignation from his post at 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. I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility.”
John Kingman, the 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.”
Kingman will be interim chairman until a replacement for Hall is appointed.
Gabriele Finaldi, the director of the National Gallery, said: “I would like to express my gratitude to Tony Hall for his excellent work as chair of trustees 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.”