BBC’s ‘Damning Failings’ May Prompt Broadcaster Reform, Says Minister

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: The BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House is illuminated at night on November 13, 2012 in London, England. Tim Davie has been appointed the acting Director General of the BBC following the resignation of George Entwistle after the broadcasting of an episode of the current …
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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said that a report which revealed the “damning failings at the heart of the BBC” related to the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, may prompt a government review of the public broadcaster.

On Thursday, the Dyson report concluded that BBC journalist Martin Bashir had used “deceitful behaviour” to gain access to the princess, notably falsifying bank statements appearing to show that people were paid to surveil her.

Further, under a section entitled “Was there a cover-up?”, Lord Dyson has stated: “I am satisfied that the BBC covered up in its press logs such facts as it had been able to establish about how Mr Bashir secured the interview.”

Responding to the report’s findings, Mr Dowden said: “Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC.

“We will now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review.

“I welcome the fact that the new leadership launched this independent inquiry and expect them to ensure that this can never happen again.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnso has also said, according to The Times, that he was “very concerned” by the report’s findings and hoped the broadcaster would take “every possible step to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again”.

Robert Buckland likewise suggested there could be reform following the “devastating findings”, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: “It wasn’t just the decision of a reporter or a production team. There were decisions made much further up the chain about the conduct of these individuals that have now proved, according to Lord Dyson, to be unfounded and wrong.

“Therefore, government does have a responsibility to look very carefully to see whether the governance of the BBC does need reform in the light of these devastating findings.”

London’s Metropolitan Police will also be reviewing the report for allegations of unlawful activity.

Diana’s two sons reacted to the report’s findings, with Prince William condemning the “deceitful way” in which the BBC reporter obtained the interview with his mother and criticised “leaders of the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions”, adding that he believed the deception worsened the princess’s state of “fear, paranoia, and isolation that I remember from those final years with her”.

Prince Harry also condemned the “unethical practices” which he blames for the death of his mother.

Others have also roundedly criticised the broadcaster, calling for the compulsory TV licence fee to be scrapped, including the Defund the BBC campaign which said: “The British people must be entirely free to decide whether they want to fund this corrupt organisation or not. The live TV tax must end.”

Social commentator Calvin Robinson condemned the BBC and Bashir on Twitter for having “shamed themselves” and for having “lied, faked documents, [and] manipulated the Royal Family. They then covered it up and swept complaints under the rug.”

“They deserve to be defunded,” Mr Robinson told talkRADIO.

Kate Hoey, the Brexiteer former Labour MP and current member of the House of Lords, said: “For those who experienced the bias of the BBC during the [European Union] referendum this is no surprise. Need for a fundamental shift in Government support for the organisation. The licence fee must go and the BBC then can compete with other broadcast media on equal terms #DefundTheBBC”

Reform UK leader Richard Tice called the report “damning”, adding that “Police must investigate, heads must roll.”

Reclaim party leader Laurence Fox said: “The BBC should be defunded and go and ply their mucky trade in the private sector along with the other valueless, propagandist hacks.”

Sir Ian Duncan Smith MP, the former leader of the Conservative Party, said: “There is a culture of ‘fort BBC’. Once you’re in the Beeb, you’re protected… and answer to next to nobody.”

Commentator and author Douglas Murray remarked: “It’s an extraordinary level of deception, and I think if it was anyone else in the media or press the BBC would be calling for heads, right now.”

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