BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead to leave role – BBC News

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BBC Trust chairwoman Rona Fairhead has announced she will not be applying to head the corporation’s new governing body.

A unitary board is to replace the external BBC Trust and internal BBC Executive.

Ms Fairhead said the prime minister had “strongly encouraged” her to take part in the new appointment process.

But she said it would be “better to have a clean break and for the government to appoint someone new”.

Ms Fairhead, the first woman to lead the BBC Trust, began her four-year role in October 2014.

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Her tenure coincided with renewal of the BBC Charter, which in May saw a major overhaul of how the corporation is run unveiled in a government White Paper.

Following the announcement, the then government of David Cameron asked Ms Fairhead to continue until 2018 – moving from chairwoman of the Trust to lead the new board.

But then it had been recently decided to introduce an appointment process, a spokeswoman for the Trust said, and Ms Fairhead would now step down when the new board began its work early next year.

‘Real contribution’

In a statement, Ms Fairheed said: “I took on leadership of the Trust to help stabilise, strengthen and develop the BBC following a very difficult period in its history and through Charter review. I was always clear that I was willing to serve for four years, after which I would continue my career in the private sector.

“I am proud of what I and my colleagues, both at the Trust and the BBC, have accomplished during the past two years. I believe the draft Charter will secure the strong, confident and independent BBC that the public want and deserve.”

Ms Fairhead said she intended to continue her career in the private sector “as I had always planned to do after my existing term ended in 2018”.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “Rona has made a real contribution to BBC and at a really important time for us. On behalf of all the staff, I’d like to thank her for that and wish her the very best for the future.

“We will continue to work together in the interests of licence fee payers until the new governance arrangements are in place.”

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “The government thanks Rona Fairhead for her service to the BBC. Full details of the BBC Charter will be announced shortly.”

Ms Fairhead is a former Financial Times chief executive and has served on the boards of a number of multinational companies including HSBC and PepsiCo and held leadership positions with plane and train-maker Bombardier and ICI.

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