TV presenter tells of bullying and intimidation in BBC newsroom

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A BBC television presenter told an employment tribunal yesterday he was harassed out of his job after raising concerns over the "bullying and intimidation" of staff.

Laurie Mayer said he had paid a "personal price" for confronting management about the treatment of journalists at the regional studio in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Mr Mayer, 57, said he saw one female reporter "in tears" while on another occasion a manager had launched into a "string of expletives" at a staff member during his time as presenter of South East Today.

The tribunal, at Ashford, Kent, was told Mr Mayer first complained of the "atmosphere of intimidation" to the station's head of region, Laura Ellis, in May 2001, five weeks after he joined the station. But he felt that nothing was done because of the close working relationship between three senior managers, all of whom had been transferred from the BBC in the Midlands. He said the bullying revolved around the assistant editor Davina Reynolds, who was engaged to the managing editor, Rod Beards.

"Davina exploited her relationship with Rod. She used it as a licence to promote her favourites and suppress debate about programme ideas in the most unpleasant manner."

He is accusing the BBC of unfair dismissal and breach of contract, and claiming he suffered detrimental treatment because he highlighted problems within the regional newsroom. His contract for his £69,000-a-year post was terminated after he stormed out shortly before he was due to go on air in June 2002, after an argument with Ms Ellis.

Mr Mayer worked for the BBC as a freelance for 30 years and fronted Breakfast News, as well as the One O'Clock and Six O'Clock bulletins.

The tribunal continues.