NUJ statement on the Dyson report

  • 22 May 2021

The general secretary responds to the report on the ethical failures which took place as part of Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana for Panorama.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary,  told the Delegate Meeting:“It’s clear that the independent report’s finding, carried out by Lord Dyson and commissioned by Tim Davie as the recently appointed BBC Director General, and indeed the BBC’s own investigative reporting at Panorama, has demonstrated that serious ethical failures took place as part of Martin Bashir’s interview in 1995 and the underhand tactics used by him, and that even more serious abuses on the part of management to cover it up, going so far as to badly let down those who blew the whistle, and effectively blacklisting the freelance worker tasked with coming up with the fake documentation.

While we have debated today, former DG Tony Hall has resigned from the post he took up a chair of the National Gallery.  It is not surprising that some are also questioning the decisions of those in positions of power who rehired Martin Bashir five years ago, despite knowing what had taken place in 1995.
“I know many of our BBC members have concerns that this crisis, and of course it is a crisis, is threatening perceptions of their own journalistic integrity and reputations, and risks jeopardising the important relationship of trust that exists between journalists at our public service broadcaster and their viewers, readers and listeners. It is another mess of the BBC’s own making.
“It’s important for us to also reiterate that the BBC is not its management, past or present. The BBC and the values and principles of public service broadcasting it personifies is in fact our members, and all its staff, who do the work that makes the corporation an entity that is valued at home and throughout the world.
“But this is also the time for cool heads and it is important to recognise much of the feeding frenzy surrounding this issue for what it is – opportunistic attacks by political enemies of the BBC, those who seek to hobble our public service broadcaster and the principles of universality that underpin it.
“In the same response that made clear his fury at the Dyson revelations, Prince William also made considered and important points in support of public service broadcasting.
“This saga has dogged the BBC for a long time, and clearly this weekend will be a difficult one for the Corporation, but this report should also now put the issue to rest. Our clear and focussed attention should be on the BBC’s next steps, its future, not least as it embarks upon the mid-term review of the licence fee, a process that is fraught with risks and challenges. The threats to the BBC are numerous and it is vital that the NUJ, alongside our sister unions at the BBC, continues and indeed steps up our work to secure a more stable financial footing for our public service broadcaster, one that properly resources its journalism and programming, and one in which it is distanced and protected from interference and the political whims of the government of the day.”

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