BBC accused of politicized hiring

A former Labour politician claims the corporation denied him a board position, fearing retribution from Boris Johnson’s government

Former Labour government member James Purnell has accused the BBC of blocking him from a top position, supposedly to keep favor with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

Purnell held many high-ranking posts within BBC throughout the years. He was also its director for radio and education from 2016 to 2020. However, when the broadcaster’s new director general, Tim Davie, offered Purnell a position on the board in 2020, other non-executive directors “decided they didn’t want someone with a Labour background,”Purnell spoke in a series tweetsAddition of that to his case “the BBC Board decided that … politics should exclude.”

Before joining the BBC, Purnell served as secretary for culture, and later for work and pensions, in then Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour government. Purnell quit the Labour Party in 2013 to join the BBC.

Purnell stated that Friday he had no idea who was preventing him taking up a seat on the board and claimed it wasn’t about politics. “Arguably, it was a legitimate part of their role as a unitary board,”He called it “it”, he stated. “a moment of fear and vulnerability.” 

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FILE PHOTO. London, Britain. © Reuters / Henry Nicholls
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According to the broadcaster, “felt it was dealing with an existential risk,” Purnell claimed. He pointed to Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who was described by British media as going to “war”The BBC will be back in 2020 “They went into hyper-cautious mode,” Purnell explained.

Ex-executive at BBC, who now serves as Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London. He went on to explain the problem “institutional,” and rooted in the fact that “the Government of the day has almost untrammelled power over setting the license fee and reviewing the Charter.” He also called for “creating independent checks and balances for both”The Charter Review is expected to take place in 2026.

The BBC has not commented on Purnell’s statements so far. Purnell’s allegations are the latest in a series of scandals involving the broadcaster. An earlier scandal in which Emily Maitlis, a former BBC Newsnight host was implicated involved the broadcaster. “active Tory Party agent” – the former No 10 communications chief, Sir Robbie Gibb – of shaping the broadcaster’s news output and acting as an “arbiter of impartiality.”

Maitlis herself was found in violation of impartiality rules after she shared a tweet critical of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis back in 2021. After appointing Jess Brammar (ex-editor-in-chief at Huffpost UK) as the BBC’s executive news editor that year, both left-leaning bias and biased reporting were also alleged. Brammar’s criticisms of Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Brexit were well-known.



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