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BBC Trust chair Sir Michael Lyons to step down

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 14 September 2010

Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the BBC Trust, has announced he will step down from his job when his term expires next May.

Sir Michael Lyons has announced he will step down as chairman of the BBC Trust from May 2011 (Credit: Getty)

Former local government official Sir Michael was the first person to hold the post when it was established in 2007, following criticism of the previous BBC board of governors in the Hutton inquiry.

Today he wrote to the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to say he will only serve one term in the job, and will leave in May 2011.

Sir Michael said the role had been "far more demanding than the nominal three to four days a week in the job specification."

"It is, of course, a compelling aspect of working at the BBC that it can become an all-consuming part of one's life - and this applies equally to the staff across the BBC whose great commitment helps underpin its position as the world's leading public broadcaster."

"But this workload has now reached a point where I am increasingly concerned that it is crowding out other appointments to which I remain committed and other activity that I wish to undertake."

Trust criticism
The trust was established to support and guard the BBC's independence, and act in the best interest of licence fee payers.

However it has been accused of being a "regulator and cheerleader", and there had been speculation before the general election that the Conservatives would seek to scrap it.

Mr Hunt had expressed his "serious reservations" about the trust in opposition.

However in his resignation letter, Sir Michael defended its work:

"I am proud of what we have achieved in safeguarding the BBC's independence against significant challenge, and bringing the interests of audiences in all their diversity to the centre of the BBC's thinking," he said.

Sir Michael said the trust had "taken openness and transparency to a new level" and helped to ensure the BBC operated "within clear boundaries".

The trust has taken decisions on a series of high profile decisions, including effectively saving the 6 Music digital radio channel that BBC managers had planned to axe.

It also described Russell Brand's prank phone call to the actor Andrew Sachs, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 2, as a "deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification".

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