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David Keighley: BBC blows £600,000 of your money defending the indefensible

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Is there anything that the BBC does that is fit for purpose?

Last year, an employment tribunal found that the Corporation’s most senior management had treated disgracefully John Linwood, its ex-chief technical officer who had been ignominiously fired and cast as incompetent. He was blamed for a disastrous attempt at creating a new BBC digital archiving System.

I noted at the time: “The 66-page employment tribunal ruling on the illegal sacking by BBC executive board of… John Linwood is an astonishing read.

“It makes forensically clear that due process was completely disregarded and Linwood was disgracefully and ridiculously made a scapegoat for systemic, multiple management failure within the very highest echelons of the BBC.”

The tribunal specifically attacked the BBC’s disciplinary procedures, which they said were ‘wholly inadequate’.

Now, begrudgingly ­ – and only after a freedom of information request – the Corporation has revealed that its bull-headed defence of the sacking by the executive board cost licence-fee payers a whopping £498,000. That’s 3,422 licence fees down the chute defending gross incompetence. Given the weakness of the BBC’s case, this can only be described as cavalier profligacy.

And that’s not the only cost: the employment tribunal also ordered the BBC to pay Linwood compensation. The Corporation will not disclose the figure involved, but it’s likely to have been at least £80,000.

To add insult to injury, it has also emerged that Linwood’s lawyers offered to reach a settlement over the dismissal before the hearing went ahead for £50,000.

Earlier in the week, I reported that the BBC news management had rejected monitoring of EU content to ensure impartiality partly because it was regarded by David Jordan, the Director of Editorial Standards, as ‘too expensive’.

The costs involved in the Linwood ruling show how disastrously out of kilter the BBC’s priorities are. Transparency in the measurement of impartiality? That doesn’t matter a fig. Its only true purpose is the bloody-minded defence of its own interests.

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David Keighleyhttp://news-watch.co.uk
Former BBC news producer, BBC PR executive and head of corporate relations for TV-am. Director of News-watch.

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