Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

BBC row: Furious Kate Hoey warns ‘nothing will change’ until TV licence fee is scrapped

Kate Hoey discusses review into TV licence fee

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The BBC suffered another blow after a report this week found the corporation to have fallen short of “high standards of integrity and transparency” in obtaining an interview with Princess Diana in 1995. Former BBC reporter Martin Bashir insisted he “never wanted to harm” Diana with his methods for securing her participation in the BBC Panorama programme. Baroness Hoey said the corporation will struggle to regain the trust of the public and suggested “nothing will change” until the controversial TV licence fee is scrapped.

Baroness Hoey said: “There’s a review coming next year, I think, and the Secretary of State has made it clear they are looking at things already.

“Things have changed so much in terms of the media, so many people now get their news from other channels and their entertainment from Netflix and all sorts of other ways.

“Yet, at the end of it, if you want any of those programmes, including ITV, despite paying Sky, you still have to pay your licence fee.

“I think the fact they weren’t honest about the fact they cut the free television licence, I think that was another big, big things that made people think they couldn’t be trusted anymore.”

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She continued: “This is a real catalyst now for all of us who’ve been complaining for a long time about the BBC.

“Now I just do not think they are going to be able to get away with this.”

Former BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall quit as chairman of the National Gallery on Saturday after he was heavily criticised in the Dyson report for his botched inquiry into how the interview was obtained.

Lord Hall’s resignation comes after another former BBC executive involved in the 1996 internal investigation, Tim Suter, announced on Friday that he was stepping down from his board role with media watchdog Ofcom.

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Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer is reported to have written to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick asking her to investigate the BBC.

Scotland Yard has already said that it will assess Lord Dyson’s findings to determine whether they contain any “significant new evidence”.

Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, called on current BBC director-general Tim Davie to provide a full explanation as to how Mr Bashir came to be re-employed.

The Conservative MP said that some people may suspect that the journalist was given the religion job as a way of keeping quiet about what exactly he knew.

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Mr Knight told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the corporation should now consider paying compensation to “whistleblowers” who had had their careers damaged after raising concerns about the way Bashir had operated.

He also said there was a need for further reform at the BBC, and he called for a strengthening of editorial policy within the corporation.

He told BBC Breakfast on Sunday: “We need to be sure that the processes are in place that editorial policy is respected, and has a loud enough voice in the BBC so that in future we don’t have any chance of any repeat of this shoddy journalism.”

Mr Davie wrote to BBC staff on Friday saying: “I know that we now have significantly stronger processes and governance in place to ensure that an event like this doesn’t happen again. However we must also learn lessons and keep improving.”

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