Victim of BBC bullying wants change in law

A radio news reporter harassed out of her job at BBC Bristol is campaigning to make bullying a criminal offence.

Helen Reed, who last year won an employment tribunal case against the BBC, said she had been the victim of “insidious, vile, belittling sidelining over two years”.
Her campaign coincides with the results of a nationwide survey into bullying and the release of a booklet on the subject by the NUJ’s broadcast industrial council.

Reed collated much of the information used in the survey, which concluded that bullying was “rife” at the BBC and said the corporation’s procedures for dealing with it were inadequate. According to the survey, up to 87 per cent of broadcast journalists who said they had been bullied worked for the BBC.

Nearly half of the respondents who claimed to have been bullied came from local radio and regional television – 40 per cent within BBC Nations and Regions – a sector which, the survey said, used short-term contracts as a weapon to threaten journalists’ futures and where people who lodged complaints were treated as “trouble-makers”. The survey found that BBC News was responsible for 33 per cent of all allegations of bullying.

Simon Waldman, a BBC News 24 editor who was recently appointed “anti-bullying czar”, conceded that bullying remained a serious problem. But he said the corporation had promised to remove executives and presenters that perpetuated bullying.

Waldman, who is heading an internal BBC unit to look at bullying claims, said: “When the current generation of talented tyrants move on, I think there is a genuine will to appoint people who are better to work for. The bad bullies are going to go away.” He said he had dealt with 30 allegations of bullying since the unit was launched and one BBC executive had been dismissed because of their behaviour.

Nick Ferrari, broadcaster, Sky News launch editor and the choice of Richard Desmond to edit his planned London paper, said a certain amount of browbeating should be expected, particularly within the newsroom.

“Have you come into this industry to be a social worker or a journalist? Occasionally, being screamed at in a newsroom produces results,” he asserted in a session called “Suffering in Silence”.

 

To order the booklet NUJ Targets the Bullies call Tracy Trickett on 0207 843 3726.

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