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Quango `not corrupt'

Paul McCann Media Editor
Thursday 04 March 1999 00:02 GMT

THE QUANGO that awards radio licences was cleared of corruption yesterday after allegations were made last year about how an East Anglian station won its licence.

But the Radio Authority, which called in auditors after accusations were made by a former director on BBC2's Newsnight about the award of Vibe FM's licence in 1997, is still awaiting the outcome of a separate police investigation into a senior member of its staff.

Janet Lee, the authority's programming and advertising director, is on police bail pending an investigation into whether a radio station paid for some flights she took overseas.

Grant Thornton, the auditors, investigated the separate matter of accusations about the award of a licence to Vibe FM amid allegations that an authority meeting awarded the licence after a previous meeting had awarded it to a rival bidder.

The report revealed that the authority's chairman, Sir Peter Gibbings, had a shareholding in the winning radio group, but that this shareholding was known to the authority and had been placed in a charitable trust.

The auditors have recommended that the authority tighten up some of its procedures for awarding licences.

The Radio Authority plans to write to the BBC asking it to broadcast a retraction of what it described as a "biased and unbalanced" news story. The BBC said yesterday that it has to study the auditors' report before

responding to it.

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