Deceit of the BBC bosses and the ex Labour minister: Fury after it’s revealed TV chiefs cooked up letter of support from stars
BBC boss Danny Cohen helped organise ‘independent’ celebrities’ letter
Executive James Purnell, minister under Gordon Brown, also linked to ruse
Annie Nightingale also said her boss said BBC head of TV ‘put it together’
Mr Cohen has also been thanking stars for support using #backtheBBC
By KATHERINE RUSHTON, MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY EDITOR FOR THE DAILY MAIL
17 July 2015
The BBC was accused of deceit last night after it denied orchestrating a celebrity letter to the Prime Minister backing the Corporation.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Danny Cohen, its director of television, masterminded the involvement of signatories, the BBC repeatedly refused to admit its involvement.
Last night MPs demanded an investigation into whether Mr Cohen had broken BBC rules by secretly asking a host of its stars to front Tuesday night’s open letter to David Cameron.
James Purnell, the BBC’s head of strategy – who also happens to be a former Labour minister under Gordon Brown – was also linked to what was initially presented as an independent protest.
Signed by 29 actors, presenters and writers – including Dame Judi Dench, Graham Norton and Stephen Fry – it urged the Prime Minister to stop the BBC being ‘diminished’.
The Daily Mail asked the BBC five times where the letter came from. The BBC insisted – repeatedly – that the letter came from the stars themselves, and said it did not ‘know about the origins of writing it’.
‘These are people who clearly want to speak up for the BBC. The letter is from the signatories. It speaks for itself. They have their own strong views,’ it said. However, the Corporation was left severely embarrassed when two of the signatories revealed it was orchestrated by Mr Cohen.
Presenter Michael Palin told a BBC News programme yesterday: ‘I was asked to sign it by Danny Cohen. He knows I’m a supporter of the BBC… so he just asked: “Would you sign? The charter’s coming up. We’re a little bit worried the BBC will become smaller and less significant”.’
Annie Nightingale, Radio 1’s longest-serving presenter, admitted she had not even read the letter but had signed it anyway following a request from her boss Ben Cooper. ‘Ben said Danny Cohen was putting this letter together,’ she told the Times.
Meanwhile, Mr Cohen posted messages about the letter on Twitter, apparently oblivious to the furore.
In one, he linked to a BBC article about Mr Palin’s comments, which made no mention of Mr Cohen’s efforts behind the scenes. However, one viewer responded: ‘What could go wrong when the BBC instigates a letter to which highly paid people put their name? Huge own goal.’
Yesterday, MPs called for an inquiry into how the letter was orchestrated and whether it broke BBC rules.
The Corporation’s editorial policy states that BBC output ‘must remain independent and distanced from government initiatives, campaigners, charities and their agendas.’ It stipulates: ‘We need to ensure the BBC’s impartiality is not brought into question and presenters or reporters are not exposed to potential conflicts of interest.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3163519/Luvvies-letter-defending-BBC-signed-29-celebrities-organised-corporation-bosses-says-Radio-1-star.html#ixzz3g9A3IdY2
This latest scandal is further evidence of the BBC flouting its charter obligation of impartiality and instead peddling an elitist institutional agenda of its own.
It is unacceptable that overpaid celebrities, who benefit from the patronage of senior BBC executives, should be induced to sign an open letter to the prime minister defending a status quo from which they all profit, at licence fee payers’ expense.
Who looks out for the interests of our people in all of this? Not the overpaid senior executives of the BBC, not its house-trained Trust and not even the government, who dare not rock the boat.
As usual, of all parties, only Patria dares speak the truth plainly.
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