BBC ad an 'emotional release' for staff

Horrocks: raised the cash for advert

The BBC’s head of current affairs, who helped to organise the advert in The Daily Telegraph supporting the corporation’s independence, has said it was an “emotional release” for staff.

Peter Horrocks e-mailed colleagues asking for contributions of £5 each towards the cost of the ad after a decision taken at a meeting of 400 BBC staff after Greg Dyke’s departure.

Contributors to the fund included John Simpson and Ben Brown.

“It helped give an emotional release and to show their respect for Greg and for the issue of BBC independence.

The fact that we got 9,000 signatures within four hours shows that the viral campaign within the organisation gave people a real focus and asserted the BBC’s values,” he told Press Gazette.

He said the response to the ad reinforced the importance of “bold, robust, well-sourced original journalism as being the centrepiece of the BBC”.

“That was a good moment and people can move on. The drive for original journalism that Greg stood for is really powerful, and out of something that is obviously very distressing maybe something positive can come,” he said.

Union members at the BBC were protesting on Thursday outside offices and studios across the UK. Despite acting chairman Lord Ryder’s pledge to continue to support “brave, independent and rigorous” journalism, the corporation has already been accused of backing down after cutting from Radio 4 comedy Absolute Power a reference to Tony Blair as a liar.

The NUJ this week delivered a briefing document to MPs outlining the dangers posed by the Hutton Report.

General secretary Jeremy Dear said: “BBC journalists have taken the lead in standing up for journalism. Their magnificent actions last week sent a clear message to the governors and management of the BBC that they must stand up for the BBC’s independence, integrity and commitment to quality news and current affairs.”

By Sarah Boden

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