Years after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) vowed to implement a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding bullying and harassment, misconduct continues to plague the broadcaster, reported The Times.
Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information Act disclosure show that while the BBC upheld or partially upheld 33 of 154 reported cases of such misconduct over the past two years, only one person was sacked.
Some 105 complaints were dismissed and 16 were withdrawn, allowing dozens of staff to retain their jobs despite having been implicated in sexual abuse, intimidation and harassment.
The company’s executives fail to adequately protect complainants, claim sources cited by the outlet.
The attitude adopted by the BBC is currently “more about protecting the institution than the individual”, said a source who had reportedly been involved in such a case.
Pedestrians walk past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House in London, Britain January 29, 2020.
Since 2013, when the BBC found itself under fire over the scandal involving its disgraced host Jimmy Savile, found to be a predatory sex offender only after his death in 2011, 508 formal cases of bullying and harassment have been registered. Of these, 32 were complaints of sexual misconduct.
“Many of those accused are managers and the BBC are scared to dismiss them because they are worried about the negative publicity. Often those guilty leave quietly with a payoff, a wholly unacceptable way of cracking down on inappropriate behaviour,” said Paul Siegert, broadcasting organiser at the National Union of Journalists.
The broadcaster has dismissed criticism, insisting that “appropriate action” is taken in each of the abuse complaint cases.
Emphasising that the figures contained in the report fail to take into account BBC Studios, which churns out a significant portion of its TV content, the company was cited as saying:
“The BBC should be ambitious about resolving cases quickly, but they can be complex and need to be investigated with rigour and care.”
‘Serious Failings’ at BBC
Over the course of the past decade, the BBC has been repeatedly plagued by accusations of “institutionalised sexual abuse.”
The state broadcaster found itself in the crosshairs in 2012 and 2013, after a series of investigations, accusations and scandals related to sexual abuse committed by employees, and the reporting of allegations of abuse by others.
Tonight’s Panorama was shocking – but mainly because it’s taken the BBC 25 years to finally tell the truth about the Bashir/Diana scandal. They have blood on their hands because that interview propelled Diana on a path to her death.
A shocking, criminal abuse of public money. pic.twitter.com/qnYR56fSDH
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 20, 2021
TV personality Jimmy Savile, BBC’s “Top of the Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It” host, was revealed to have engaged in sexual abuse of children, on occasion at BBC TV Centre, with suggestions that the misconduct was known about, and ignored, by higher-up executives.
Amid the scandal, other alleged victims came forward with allegations of abuse against other BBC celebrities, triggering Operation Yewtree by Metropolitan Police to probe sexual abuse allegations against Savile and others, and resulted in several prosecutions.
Isn’t the systemic story re the BBC the cover up, the sidelining of whistleblowers, a problem we saw re Saville, in social care, the NHS, etc. I sometimes wonder if the perception of virtue that attaches to some organisations provides moral cover for deeply unethical behaviour
— Matthew Syed (@matthewsyed) May 21, 2021
Thus, TV and radio presenter Stuart Hall was convicted in 2013 and 2014 of sexual offences, while veteran children’s TV entertainer Rolf Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault in 2014.
After a Respect at Work review in 2013, the BBC had pledged to implement a “zero tolerance” culture where “people feel able to raise concerns and have confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately”.