BBC staff 'incensed' over recruitment processes surrounding new Victoria Derbyshire show

BBC News staff are said to be “incensed” over various appointments seemingly being made without competitive interviews.

The corporation last week announced plans for a new programme hosted by Victoria Derbyshire, whose Radio 5 Live programme was axed over the summer.

A press release from the corporation announced that Louisa Compton will edit the programme, having previously been in charge of Radio One's Newsbeat. Staff have also discovered that a senior producer has been appointed to the show. Compton has been replaced as editor of Newsbeat by Newswire and On Demand editor Mark Barlex.

The moves come at a time when BBC News is in negotiations with staff over 415 redundancies as part of Delivering Quality First cuts.

BBC insiders have told Press Gazette that the positions were not advertised for internally or externally, and that staff have not been told how many people will be employed on the Derbyshire show.

One said: “Staff really are incensed and feel they've been misled by News Leadership.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We announced in the summer our plans to develop a programme presented by Victoria Derbyshire on the News Channel, and we are delighted to able to bring that to network television audiences on BBC Two.

"A small number of senior roles were assigned to work on the project and they have spent the last few weeks developing ideas.

"New permanent or long-term roles within the programme team will be filled through competitive internal recruitment or by existing members of the News Channel team.”

There was a similar degree of disquiet among BBC News employees over the summer when Lucy Manning and Ed Campbell were recruited from ITN.

The BBC press office refused to say whether Manning and Campbell’s positions were advertised or whether they went through competitive interview processes.

A statement 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."

The corporation then rejected a Freedom of Information Act request from Press Gazette for information about these two, and 21 other recent recruits.

Following an appeal to the Information Commissioner, the BBC was later forced to reveal that Campbell’s position was not advertised for internally or externally and that he was appointed by one person, head of newsgathering, Jonathan Munro.

The BBC refused to say how Manning was recruited because she is considered on-screen “talent” and therefore exempt under FoI.

BBC guidelines on recruitment 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.

Last week, Press Gazette revealed that a survey conducted at the end of 2014 had showed discontent among staff at the corporation – particularly among those in the BBC News division – over recruitment processes.

Some 31 per cent of news division staff who filled out the survey believe that "there are fair, open processes for filling internal vacancies". This compares with 38 per cent of respondents who believed this in the corporation as a whole.

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