BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson has shut down his new website after it revealed consultancy plans which would have contravened the corporation’s editorial guidelines.
The 71-year-old broadcaster, who has spent more than 50 years reporting on international politics, appeared to be promoting his services as a media consultant and risk analyst for advisory firm Simpson Associates at website johnsimpson.tv.
Text that appeared under a “Consultancy” section (pictured above), available until 18 Aprilbut since taken offline, boasted of Simpson’s “enviable network of international experts in the world of finance, commerce, risk management and assessment, communications and even couvert [sic] operations”.
The site, now completely removed from the web, described Simpson Associates as “an advisory firm specializing in critical issues and corporate relations: a global resource led by John Simpson and drawing on an internationally renown [sic] knowledge base”.
A statement issued by the BBC said: “This would have been considered commercial work that is not compatible with BBC editorial guidelines or John’s role at the BBC and as such John agrees he won’t be taking these activities forward.”
Despite appearing to tweet about the new site, Simpson has distanced himself from it, saying it was “a work in progress and wasn’t meant to go public” in a response to a Mail Online article exposing his consultancy firm.
He attacked the Mail’s article as “ludicrously inaccurate”, including its claim that he earned £800,000 a year from the BBC.
He said: “The supposed facts in the Mail’s article are ludicrously inaccurate. I didn’t write or see the entries on my website, which was a work in progress, and wasn’t meant to go public. The idea that I am earning £800,000 a year is a wild fantasy.
“Two years ago I was given a new agreement which restricted me to 125 days a year with a commensurately deep cut in salary. I was given permission to work for any other organisation as long as it didn’t contravene the BBC’s guidelines, and I received an assurance that I could work for as long as I wanted.
“Throughout my long career I’ve never once transgressed the BBC’s guidelines.”