Tory member of parliament leads calls for resignation of BBC boss after Python Palin inadvertently reveals breach of lobbying guidelines.
As head of BBC television and therefore one of the most influential people in Britain, Danny Cohen has an enormous amount of power over the BBC, having a say in which programmes get commissioned and which stars get work. Rules exist, therefore, to prevent abuse of his position – including over lobbying of the government.
Monty Python star and travelogue legend Michael Palin accidentally opened a can of worms on his television boss when he revealed this week that Cohen had been asking top celebrities, many of whom he has a close working relationship over, to sign a letter of support for the BBC. Presented to the government only days before talks on the future of the corporation was due to begin, Cohen no doubt believed he has scored a great bargaining chip to preserve the corporation he serves – on £320,000 a year.
Instead the letter has become an own goal, and will be used to shame the corporation’s bullying tactics, and shameless leverage of celebrity to protect itself from change, no matter how badly it is needed.
The Express newspaper reveals the letter he sent round celebrity pals to sign has “raised eyebrows” at the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, and Tory MP Andrew Bridgend has now called for Cohen to resign. He said:
“Danny Cohen should consider his position.
Unless he resigns I shall be writing to Jesse Norman, chairman of the Culture Media and Sport Committee, on Monday asking him to call Mr Cohen before the committee to answer questions about his role in the shabby affair and to find out why he pursued a course of action that is in breach of the BBC’s own lobbying guidelines.
“By rights the BBC Trust should already be investigating.”
Neither the BBC nor the BBC trust accept there is any case to answer and will not be investigating Cohen’s abuse of power.
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