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BBC Board to review editorial policies and governance

May 24, 2021

By Colin Mann

The BBC Board has issued a Statement expressing its concern at the findings in Lord Dyson’s report into the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, confirming that it will review the effectiveness of the BBC’s editorial policies and governance in detail.

“We accepted Lord Dyson’s findings in full and reiterate the apology we have offered to all those affected by the failings identified,” says the Board. “We recognise the impact that the events it describes has had on so many people, not least those whose lives were personally affected by what happened. We also acknowledge that audiences had a right to expect better from the BBC.”

“As a Board we believe that the BBC is a different organisation today, with different and stronger governance, as well as improved processes. Nevertheless, Lord Dyson’s report speaks to historic failings of oversight and these should be reflected upon. We must not just assume that mistakes of the past cannot be repeated today – we must make sure that this is the case.”

“We have confidence that the processes and guidelines in today’s BBC are much stronger than they were in 1995, but we know we must also do what we can to prevent such an incident happening again. As such, we think it is right that we review the effectiveness of the BBC’s editorial policies and governance in detail.”

“In doing this, the Board will hold the Executive to account to ensure there are strong day to day editorial processes and a clear route by which to handle any specific issues arising from Lord Dyson’s report. The Board will look at the culture of the BBC as part of its remit to assess the effectiveness of policies and practice,” it advises.

This work will be undertaken by a group of non-executive Board Directors led by Sir Nick Serota, the BBC’s Senior Independent Director, and supported by Ian Hargreaves and Sir Robbie Gibb, non-executive members of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and Standards Committee. It will report to the Board by September.

Their work will focus on oversight of the BBC’s editorial practices and will consider in detail the robustness and independence of whistleblowing processes in editorial areas. This will include communicating with internal and external stakeholders and taking expert independent advice on the BBC’s approach. Their work will moreover identify the lessons to be learned from Lord Dyson’s review which may be relevant today. “The BBC will, of course, also participate fully in the next formal review of BBC governance, as set out in our Royal Charter,” says the Board.

“This has been a profoundly sobering period for us all. The Board of the BBC has absolute faith that the mission and purposes of the BBC endure. We must strive to reinforce confidence in our world-class journalism and prove that we deserve the trust of all our audiences,” they conclude.

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