Top BBC executive accused of bullying in Rose review


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The Independent Online

Several staff at the BBC are each the subject of multiple allegations in an official inquiry into bullying and sexual harassment, The Independent can disclose.

One senior BBC executive is the subject of more than 20 complaints of bullying and his case is being treated as a special category within the review, which is being conducted on behalf of the BBC by the barrister Dinah Rose QC. The case is also the subject of an official group complaint to the BBC.

The complaints in respect of this longstanding employee are understood to cover a number of years and collectively allege a consistent pattern of bullying management behaviour. The senior executive, whom The Independent has chosen not to identify, denies the claims and is defending himself against the allegations.

Several complaints had previously been made against the individual and some of the claimants, who have in some cases taken legal advice, believe they were not listened to by BBC management.

A large number of allegations of bullying and sexual harassment have surfaced at the BBC in the wake of last year's Jimmy Savile scandal, which has put a spotlight on working conditions within the organisation. Those familiar with evidence submitted to the review have been shocked both by the scale of the complaints and the nature of some of the allegations.

The BBC has brought in an outside consultancy, Change Associates, to conduct one-to-one interviews with employees who wished to discuss bullying or sexual harassment issues, whether or not they had experienced them personally.

Some 850 members of BBC staff came forward to raise their concerns and the BBC's head of human resources Lucy Adams has acknowledged in an email that some of the testimony is "uncomfortable to hear". One member of the BBC's staff described the scale of the response as "staggering". The findings are to be incorporated into a BBC report called Respect at Work.

The Rose review was initiated by the former director general George Entwistle last October after news emerged that many of Savile's alleged offences took place on BBC premises. "The allegations that have arisen in the last few weeks that date back decades have truly shocked me," he said at the time. "If there are lessons we can learn then we must do so to ensure that the mistakes of the past should never be repeated."

The QC will be asked to make recommendations on how the BBC can improve its processes relating to sexual harassment. Her findings could present an early dilemma for the incoming Director General Tony Hall, who begins work on 2 April with a mandate to improve morale and work practices.

Questioned about its response to multiple allegations about one of its senior executives, the BBC said it would be "inappropriate" for it to comment on "contributions submitted anonymously and in confidence to the Respect at Work report". It said: "In setting up the review we have demonstrated how seriously we take our duty of care to staff."