BBC bosses showed 'cavalier' attitude to culture of harassment

Ian Burrell
Sunday 28 October 2012 23:30

The BBC has been warned it faces a series of high-profile claims of sexual harassment and bullying from current female employees.

Lucy Adams, the BBC's director of human resources, has been told that "several cases" being brought against the BBC are "immediate, ongoing and a serious indictment on management's cavalier attitude to harassment".

An email to Ms Adams from a BBC trade union official, seen by The Independent, states the complaints "will compound all the issues raised by Savile". The email, written by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) branch chair at the BBC, David Campanale, states: "The evidence is that some managers violate clear, unambiguous BBC principles on the issue. If, or when, these cases become public through their current processes they will further reflect badly on the BBC."

The NUJ contacted its membership to ask for information from those who have experienced harassment or bullying, and is understood to have received a "significant" response.

The development comes after the BBC announced it had appointed a barrister, Dinah Rose, QC, to conduct an internal inquiry into claims of sexual harassment at the BBC, and the organisation's practices on the issue over the past 40 years, after allegations that there was a culture of endemic sexism and harassment at the broadcaster.

Following the Savile scandal, a series of former BBC female staff members have made allegations of sexual misconduct against ex-colleagues. The BBC confirms nine current staff and contributors face allegations of misconduct.

Byron Myers, a former head of human resources at the BBC, told The Daily Telegraph last week he was put under "intolerable pressure" and resigned after he tried to blow the whistle on sexual discrimination at the organisation, and refused to withdraw an allegation that a senior executive was trying to force out women in senior roles who worked part time. Mr Myers has himself taken the BBC to industrial tribunal where he is claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract. The BBC is "vigorously contesting" the claims.

Announcing the appointment of Ms Rose, from Blackstone Chambers in London, BBC Director-General George Entwistle said: "I am very grateful Dinah Rose, QC, has agreed to help us look at these issues." The BBC said she will assist in "reviewing its policies and processes relating to sexual harassment and ensuring existing structures and resources are properly deployed to guarantee support to any complainant".