BBC recommends complaint procedure at editorial level

Neil: headed editorial review team  Dyke: became ‘too involved’

The BBC’s editorial review is recommending closer involvement by programme editors and editorial teams in the broadcaster’s complaints process, and less from the director-general.

“One of the feelings with the Gilligan case was that in dealing with the complaint, it very quickly got out the hands of those people actually involved in the programme,” a senior editorial source at the BBC told Press Gazette.

“I think it’ll certainly recommend that future director-generals don’t get involved in the complaints process. I think it has come to the view that Greg [Dyke] was too involved,” added the source.

The report, which went to the governors this week, also attempts to distance its recommendations from the circumstances that sparked it off in the first place – namely Gilligan’s 29 May Today report and the subsequent Hutton inquiry.

The source suggested this was because the internal disciplinary inquiry found the BBC to have followed the correct procedure in the run up to Gilligan’s transmission.

“As we went through the other process [internal disciplinary inquiry] they obviously found out that some of the things Hutton said had gone wrong hadn’t in fact, such as checking the story out.”

The spokesman said the report would recommend how the broadcaster should “restore and re-establish BBC values”‘, not because of the Gilligan affair, but as a result of staff turnover, and will emphasise an overhaul of training.

The review has recommended examining whether to increase staff levels on BBC flagship news programmes, to ensure editorial processes are rigorously followed.

According to the source the review team considered Radio 4’s Today and other BBC breakfast programmes to be particularly “exposed”.

The review will also make recommendations regarding two-way transmissions and the recording of serious allegations.

A new ‘accountability unit’ is likely to be established, which would work as an ombudsman. This follows the recently launched complaints unit headed up by Mark Byford, who at the time was deputy director-general.

The editorial review team was led by Ron Neil, a former director of news and current affairs who spent 30 years at the corporation.

Others were Adrian Van Klaveren, head of newsgathering; Stephen Whittle, controller BBC editorial policy; Glenwyn Benson, controller of factual television; Helen Boaden, Radio 4 controller; and Richard Tait, former editorin-chief of ITN.

By Wale Azeez

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