BBC bullying row: Broadcaster accused of 'fudge' by moving boss who prompted over 30 complaints into another role
Ian Burrell is Assistant Editor and Media Editor at The Independent, i paper and Independent on Sunday. He covers news from the whole media sector from television, press, radio and advertising to technology. His weekly column on the media appears every Monday in The Independent and i paper. He also writes on media, music and culture, including long-form pieces for The Independent’s Saturday magazine and the Independent on Sunday’s magazine, New Review. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s What The Papers Say and a specialist commentator to Monocle 24 radio. He has contributed to most major broadcast outlets including BBC television and radio, CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and LBC. He has also written on media for GQ magazine. Ian has been reporting on the media industry for The Independent for more than a decade. Previously he was the newspaper’s Home Affairs Editor. He worked at The Sunday Times for five years, including as a member of the investigative Insight team, covering stories on political funding, industrial espionage and the arms industry. Previously he worked in ITV for London Weekend Television, on a weekly current affairs programme presented by Danny Baker. Ian trained at the Birmingham Post & Mail and was Regional Reporter of the Year in Press Gazette’s national awards.
Friday 24 January 2014
The BBC has been accused of a “fudge” after moving a senior executive who was the subject of more than 30 complaints over bullying to a new role within the organisation.
Rod McKenzie, editor for the past two decades of Newsbeat, the BBC’s youth news service, was moved out of his post after a year-long disciplinary process. He is expected to take a job within the BBC’s local radio structure.
Rob Wilson, a Conservative MP, has written to BBC Director General Tony Hall to complain. “This decision looks like a fudge and I’m sure that victims of bullying across the BBC will feel a sense of betrayal. It is bound to damage their confidence that their employer will stand up for them in cases of bullying.” he said. “Lord Hall promised in May last year that there would be ‘zero tolerance’ of bullying at the BBC.”
Mr McKenzie denied the allegations against him and argued that he was the victim of a campaign. He has also pointed out that some of the allegations were not upheld. In statements seen by The Independent, serving and former members of the Newsbeat team claimed to have worked in a “climate of paranoia and fear” under Mr McKenzie’s editorship and accused him of favouring some members of staff while undermining others.
In a collective statement some of the complainants said: “One person, in a position of power, has made life a living hell for dozens of people over a number of years, and has seemingly been allowed to do so unchecked.”
Some journalists claimed that working at Newsbeat caused them severe health problems. But others spoke up for Mr McKenzie, saying he was “very encouraging to young talent”.
A BBC spokesman said: “We take all allegations of bullying and harassment extremely seriously. We have a duty not only to investigate the allegations but also to all of those involved. Which is why we do not brief the details – which most people would understand.”
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