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Editorial: Lessons from Pollard that the BBC still has to learn


There is probably no organisation on earth that would come up smelling only of roses if its underbelly were picked over as exhaustively as the BBC's editorial processes have been in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair.

The decision to publish more than 1,000 pages of documents supporting Nick Pollard's report can be regarded as brave, or foolhardy, or simply – as we would see it – the duty of a publicly funded organisation. But it is a pity that fear of libel suits – or was it a last sliver of face-saving? – forced the redaction of the pithier remarks from Jeremy Paxman and others.

In the event, for all the nastiness, buck-passing and back-biting this mass of material exposes, it only reinforces Mr Pollard's conclusions: that the BBC's lines of accountability were deeply flawed and that members of its lavishly paid and top-heavy management saw it as their priority, in a crisis, to flunk responsibility rather than take it. And here it might be pertinent to mention the recent appointment of James Purnell, former TV man and Labour minister, as the BBC's director of strategy. Mr Purnell, it appears, will not only receive a salary just short of £300,000, but will also qualify for up to two years' salary if he leaves. Less favourable terms are to be introduced for senior recruits in a few weeks. Did old-style Corporation cronyism bring Mr Purnell in just under the wire?