Lord Hall steps down: The BBC biggest controversies during his time as director general

Tony Hall is stepping down as BBC director general (Picture: Reuters)

Tony Hall is stepping down as director general of the BBC.

He revealed his decision in a message to BBC staff, saying he will serve six more months in the role before leaving in the summer.

Lord Hall, who became director general in April 2013, said he wanted to put “the interests of the organisation first”.

Last week, Lord Hall said at least two thirds of BBC staff could be based outside London by 2027.

Lord Hall with the Duchess of Cambridge at the BBC in November 2018 (Picture: Getty)

In his seven years in the role, he has overseen a period of enormous upheaval at the BBC.

Here are the major controversies during his time as director general.

Equal pay

One of the biggest issues at the BBC during Lord Hall’s tenure has been equal pay.

Just before Lord Hall’s announcement that he was stepping down on Monday, radio presenter Sarah Montague revealed she had won a £400,000 settlement and apology from the BBC after being treated “unequally”.

The World At One presenter said: “Last year after a long period of stressful negotiations, I accepted a settlement of £400,000 subject to tax and an apology from the BBC for paying me unequally for so many years.”

Presenter Samira Ahmed won an equal pay case against the BBC (Picture: Getty)

She had previously said she was “incandescent with rage” when she found out her £133,000 annual salary was less than that of her co-presenters.

Earlier this month, presenter Samira Ahmed won an employment tribunal against the BBC after claiming she was underpaid by £700,000 for hosting Newswatch, compared with Jeremy Vine’s salary for Points Of View.


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The ruling said the BBC had failed to prove the pay gap wasn’t because of sex discrimination.

Last summer, Lord Hall defended the £1.75 million salary of Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker, which makes him the BBC’s highest-paid star.

“Gary does a great job for the BBC,” said Lord Hall.

The BBC’s publication of male-dominated pay lists drew attention to Lord Hall’s own salary of £450,000.

Lord Hall will remain in his role for another six months (Picture: Getty)

Free TV licences

In a hugely controversial move, the BBC announced last summer that free TV licences for up to 3.7 million over-75s were being scrapped.

Under new rules from June 2020, only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

The move has led to a severe backlash from MPs and the public.

Cliff Richard case

Sir Cliff Richard was awarded damages in a high-profile case against the BBC (Picture: Getty)

Sir Cliff Richard sued the broadcaster over its coverage of the police search of his Berkshire home in 2014.

The singer agreed a final settlement with the BBC, receiving about £2 million towards his legal costs.

Sir Cliff said he had spent more than £3 million to clear his name.


The BBC was involved in a row over political impartiality during last month’s general election.

BBC News political editor Laura Kuenssberg apologised for wrongly tweeting that a Labour activist punched a Tory advisor outside a hospital in Leeds.

She had deleted an initial tweet in which she claimed one of health minister Matt Hancock’s staff was punched by a protester.

But video footage soon emerged which showed nothing more than the advisor brushing into the man’s arm.

After the election, Lord Hall insisted people still trusted the BBC, despite accusations of election bias.

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