Rona Fairhead: Keen skier and scuba diver who did not pull punches during BBC Trust tenure


Rona Fairhead has stepped down as chairman of the BBC Trust after deciding against reapplying for the role she was asked to continue in for a further four years just five months ago.

The first woman to hold the role, Fairhead was forced to grapple with the fallout from the Jimmy Savile revelations as well as take on the renewal of the BBC Charter.

She also had to confront issues over executives' pay and questions regarding the future of the licence fee.

Rona Fairhead
(Anthony Devlin/PA)

Fairhead, 55, was not one to pull punches during her tenure, admitting the BBC had "failed" victims of Savile by turning a blind eye to the abuse they suffered.

However she would also hit back at criticism of her employers, describing the corporation as a "lightning rod for attacks".

A former chief executive of the Financial Times Group, Fairhead was born in Cumbria and went on to collect a double-first from St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

Rona Fairhead outside BBC
(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

She now looks set to return to the private sector.

In her statement announcing her intention not to apply for head of the board which will replace the BBC Trust, she said: "It is my belief that it will be better to have a clean break and for the Government to appoint someone new, and for me to continue my career in the private sector as I had always planned to do after my existing term ended in 2018."

Fairhead, holder of a pilot's licence and a keen skier and scuba diver, did not appear to shy away from a challenge at the BBC.

Upon being appointed in October 2014, she said she was "under no illusions about the significance and enormity of the job" but was excited to take on the role.

Director-general Tony Hall described her as making a "real contribution to the BBC and at a really important time", and she will be remembered by many for overseeing the renewal of the organisation's charter under difficult circumstances.