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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden vows to review structure of BBC over Martin Bashir report

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden vows to review structure of BBC over ‘damning’ incidents exposed by Martin Bashir report

  • Mr Dowden said: ‘Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at heart of BBC’
  • It came as MPs said the inquiry’s findings into Martin Bashir eroded trust in BBC 
  • Broadcaster is in talks with government over next licence fee settlement in 2027 

Oliver Dowden last night threatened the BBC with drastic reforms to its structure in response to ‘damning failings’ exposed by the Bashir report.

The Culture Secretary said he would consider whether governance reforms are needed before the corporation’s charter is renewed.

It came as MPs said the inquiry’s findings into Martin Bashir’s deception of Princess Diana eroded trust in the BBC and could call the licence fee into question.

In a tweet posted last night, Mr Dowden said: ‘Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC.

‘We will now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review.’

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, Conservative Party MP for Hertsmere, arrives on Downing Street in London, England, on April 28, 2021

The broadcaster is in talks with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport over the next licence fee settlement, which would begin in 2027.

The inquiry found that the BBC fell short of ‘high standards of integrity and transparency’ over Bashir’s 1995 interview with Diana.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The way the BBC now reacts to this will help people decide whether or not it has learned its lessons and whether as a publicly funded organisation it stands for the highest standards in journalism.

‘At the moment it is in the dock for the lowest standards. If they try to brush this under the carpet it will enrage people. This was a terrible deception and it has taken 26 years to get to the bottom of it. The BBC must be very clear about what it does next.’ Former Brexit minister Steve Baker said: ‘I hope this disgraceful, trust-shattering affair – which went all the way to the very top, to a future director general – is firmly in the past.

The inquiry found that the BBC fell short of 'high standards of integrity and transparency' over Bashir's 1995 interview with Diana (pictured)

The inquiry found that the BBC fell short of ‘high standards of integrity and transparency’ over Bashir’s 1995 interview with Diana (pictured)

‘If this sort of thing was still being done by the BBC very serious questions would have to be asked about its existence in its current form.’

Fellow Conservative backbencher Andrew Bridgen warned of ‘a further erosion of trust between the BBC and its increasingly dissatisfied licence fee payers’. He said the BBC ‘has power and authority but no proper accountability to anyone.

‘The BBC needs to go subscription and move into a proper management structure where they are accountable to their customers.’

Julian Knight, chairman of the culture committee, said: ‘This forensic report by Lord Dyson finally gets to the truth of the events behind the BBC Panorama interview.

‘It raises a number of unacceptable failings by the BBC in its internal investigation of the events behind the interview.’

In a tweet posted last night, Mr Dowden said: 'Lord Dyson's report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC

In a tweet posted last night, Mr Dowden said: ‘Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC

The comments came as a report from MPs found the BBC is ‘complacent’ in the face of declining audiences, with 200,000 people per year cancelling their licence fee.

The public accounts committee accused it of having ‘ducked the hard choices’ on cuts to frontline staff and said it was ‘unambitious’ about reform.

Meg Hillier, chairman of the cross-party committee, said: ‘Moving bits of this titanic organisation around the country, reorganising the deck chairs, just won’t cut it in the face of intense and rapidly changing global competition.’

The BBC said in a statement: ‘We do not feel that this report reflects the evidence or the facts provided to the committee. Our commitment to reform is beyond question.’

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