BBC breaks own diversity rule after making editorial director Kamel Ahmed redundant

No Bame representation on BBC News board after cull

Liam James
Wednesday 10 February 2021 21:38
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<p>Kamel Ahmed has been editorial director of BBC News since 2018</p>

Kamel Ahmed has been editorial director of BBC News since 2018

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The BBC has removed editorial director Kamal Ahmed from the board of its news arm, placing the corporation temporarily in breach of its own rule on diversity.

The number of board members on BBC News will be cut from 11 to eight as part of a plan to “modernise” the department, Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs, announced in an email to staff.

Under the restructure, Mr Ahmed, who earns around £205,000, will be made redundant along with Gavin Allen, the head of news output, and Jo Carr, the head of current affairs.

“I would like to thank them for their outstanding contribution to BBC news to date and we are exploring future options for them,” Ms Unsworth said in an email to staff. “Change is never easy but it is important to have this new structure in place.”

Without Mr Ahmed, the BBC News board will have no black, Asian or ethnic minority members, despite a policy introduced in 2019 ordering all senior leadership groups should have at least two staff members from Bame backgrounds.

The corporation said the diversity gap was only temporary and would be amended as the remaining places on the new restructured board were filled.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The final membership of the BBC News board has not been announced. Two out of the eight posts — a quarter — are currently vacant.”

Mr Ahmed was promoted to editorial director in 2018 after previously working as business editor and economics editor.

In his later role he was responsible for setting the editorial strategy of BBC News. He had previously worked for The Telegraph and The Observer.

On his appointment, Ms Unsworth said: “Kamal will bring verve, ambition and fresh editorial insight to the role and I’m thrilled he's joining my top team.”

The new board, Ms Unsworth said, will help in “increasing the impact of our world-class journalism, addressing changes in the way audiences consume news, achieving our savings target, and building a diverse culture inclusive of all”.

The BBC had announced in January 2020 it would cut 450 jobs from its news operation as part of an effort to make savings of £80m by 2022, but later made plans to cut a further 70 jobs due to the pandemic.

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