BBC 'needs complaints ombudsman'

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The BBC needs an independent ombudsman to deal with complaints against it, the corporation's former chairman Lord Grade said today.

He told the House of Lords Communications Committee complaining to the corporation was "a grizzly experience".

Lord Grade, who also served as BBC1 controller during his career, said: "Since I've left the BBC, I've had two serious complaints that I've been involved in against the BBC and that has been such a grizzly experience that I have to say now I think an ombudsman is absolutely the answer.

"I think that one of the problems of dealing with the BBC in a complaint is how long it takes them."

He told the committee, which is examining how the BBC Trust works, it had taken "months and months and months of grind" for him to resolve his complaint.

He said: "I thought to myself I'm a man that has been inside the BBC, I know how it works, I know the people that are dealing with this thing and I'm having a problem.

"Goodness knows, poor members of the public having to seek redress from the BBC when they don't know how the system works, who to write to by name or anything. It's hopeless, absolutely hopeless and it does a great institution no service at all and I think I would wholeheartedly support an ombudsman today."

The outgoing chairman of the trust, Sir Michael Lyons, also gave evidence to the committee.

The trust plays no part in the day-to-day production of programmes, but oversees standards and hears appeals over complaints.