BBC declines to reveal whether 20 more senior editorial recruits were taken via open or closed recruitment process

The BBC has declined to say whether a number of recent high-profile appointments were employed through an open process.

The corporation came under fire last week when Press Gazette asked whether ITV News’s Lucy Manning and ITN’s Ed Campbell had been recruited after competitive interviews.

Last week’s announcement that the pair were being taken on came at as BBC News is set to cut 500 jobs, 6 per cent of the division.

The BBC declined to elaborate on how the pair were recruited, leading one insider to express concerns about a culture of cronyism at the public-funded corporation.

Press Gazette asked the BBC whether a further 20 recent senior editorial appointments were made after advertisements and an interview process.

The 20 are (internal moves asterisked):

  • Nick Hopkins (investigations correspondent, Newsnight)
  • Duncan Weldon (economics correspondent, Newsnight)
  • Keith Blackmore (managing editor, BBC News)
  • Laura Kuennsberg (presenter and chief correspondent, Newsnight)
  • Robert Peston (economics editor)*
  • Mishal Husain (presenter, Today)*
  • Paul Royall (editor, BBC News at Six and Ten)*
  • Ian Katz (editor, Newsnight)
  • Ceri Thomas (acting editor, Panorama)*
  • Jon Sopel (North American editor)*
  • Mark Mardell (presenter, The World This Weekend and The World at One)*
  • Kayta Adler (Europe editor), Ian Pannell (international correspondent)*
  • Mark Wray (head of BBC College of Journalism)*
  • Penny Marshall (education editor)
  • Hugh Pym (health editor)*
  • John Mullin (Scottish referendum editor)
  • Jim Gray (head of BBC TV current affairs and deputy to the head of news programmes)
  • Helen Boaden (director, BBC Radio)* 
  • Peter Rippon (editor, BBC Online Archive)*.

Press Gazette asked the BBC how each was recruited, whether each post was formally advertised and if there was a formal interview process. 

A BBC spokesperson said: "We ensure we fill roles competitively using a variety of different recruitment methods. On occasion, on-air reporters or other key editorial staff have been recruited in a different way, but always within the proper recruitment process."

In response to a previous question about the recruitment of former Times deputy editor Keith Blackmore to the post of BBC managing editor in November 2013, the BBC said: "The normal recruitment process was undertaken, and the position was externally advertised."

Last week, reacting to the appointments of Manning and Campbell, one insider told Press Gazette: “There is only one recruitment process that me and my colleagues know is competitive and that's a recruitment process.

"There is widespread outrage in the BBC Newsroom about the BBC's cavalier disregard of its duties to be open and fair in its recruitment. This is nothing less than cronyism."

Press Gazette has been sent a copy of the BBC’s own recruitment policies, which state: "Vacancies should be filled via a competitive selection process, using fair and robust job-related criteria. Recruitment and selection processes should be accessible to all…"

They also state: "All continuing vacancies, plus vacancies of three months or more, should be advertised internally across the BBC.

"There are very limited circumstances in which the above rules can be disregarded."

Under the heading of "Appointments without competition" the BBC guidelines state:  "In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate or practical to fill a vacancy without a  competitive selection process. The rationale for doing so should include an assessment of the  potential impact, and approval sought in advance from a senior member of the divisional HR  team. 

The circumstances in which an appointment may be made without competition are as follows: 

• If there is a suitably qualified employee seeking redeployment, provided this does  not involve a promotion.

• Where the BBC has committed to reinstate an employee on return from a BBC role  overseas, on return from a secondment to another organisation, or on return from a  career break, provided that this does not involve a promotion. 

• Where there are overriding operational considerations of an exceptional nature. 

• Where a similar vacancy has been advertised so recently (normally within 4  months) that the field of candidates has not changed, and is therefore known to the  hiring manager.  

• Where there has been no substantial change to the principal responsibilities of a role, but it has been re-graded as a result of an evaluation process."

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