A review of internal practices at the BBC that was convened in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal has found that there have been 37 complaints of sexual harassment at the broadcaster in the past six years, but that current incidents are “rare.” Bullying and other forms of “inappropriate behavior” were found to be “much more prominent,” however. In response, the BBC said it would be overhauling its bullying and harassment policy and will also do away with gag clauses in BBC employment contracts.
The Savile crisis exploded last October, nearly a year after the longtime BBC celebrity TV host died. Since then there have been hundreds of allegations of child sex abuse lodged against Savile with some said to have occured on BBC premises. The report (read it here) calls the crisis “a period which shook the BBC to its core.” But according to the findings, it’s bullying that is the biggest current problem facing the broadcaster. Throughout conversations with nearly 1,000 staff members, the report found there was “a strong undercurrent of fear” and multiple people in different parts of the BBC said they had been the victim of abuse by a “known bully.” New BBC director general Tony Hall, who joined the corporation months after the Savile scandal erupted, called for “zero tolerance of bullying and a culture where people feel able to raise concerns and have the confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately… The measures we are taking today, including the removal of so called ‘gagging clauses,’ show our commitment to change. This agenda will be a priority for the senior management team going forward.”