BBC accused of politicized hiring — RT World News
A former Labor politician claims the company denied him a board position over fears of reprisals from Boris Johnson’s government
Former Labor cabinet minister James Purnell has accused the BBC of barring him from a top job, supposedly to keep favor with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet.
Purnell has held a number of senior roles with the BBC over the years and was its director of radio and education between 2016 and 2020. However, when the broadcaster’s new chief executive, Tim Davie , offered Purnell a position on the board in 2020 , other non-executive directors « decided they didn’t want someone from Labour, » Purnell said in a series of tweetadding that in his case, « The BBC Board has decided that…policy should exclude. »
Before joining the BBC, Purnell served as Culture and then Works and Pensions Secretary in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labor government. When he joined the BBC in 2013, Purnell resigned from the Labor Party.
On Friday, Purnell said he wasn’t sure who insisted on barring him from the board and insisted it wasn’t partisan politics. « You could say that was a legitimate part of their role as a unitary board, » he said calling her « a moment of fear and vulnerability. »
The broadcaster would « felt it was an existential risk », Purel claims. He pointed to Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, who was described by British media as going « war » with the BBC in 2020. “They went into hyper-cautious mode,” Purnell explained.
The former BBC executive, who is now Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London, went on to describe the problem « institutional, » and rooted in the fact that « the government of the day has almost unlimited power over the setting of license fees and the revision of the Charter ». He also called for « creating independent checks and balances for both » before the revision of the Charter, scheduled for 2026.
The BBC has yet to comment on Purnell’s statements. His allegations follow another scandal involving the broadcaster. Earlier this week, former BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis accused a « active agent of the Conservative Party » – former No 10 communications chief Sir Robbie Gibb – to shape the broadcaster’s news output and act as « arbiter of impartiality ».
Maitlis herself was found to be in breach of impartiality rules after she shared a tweet criticizing the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis in 2021. That year the BBC was also accused of bias in left after appointing former editor Jess Brammar. -in-Chief of Huffpost UK, as Executive Editor. Brammar was previously known for her criticism of Brexit and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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