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BBC Whistleblower

Daily Telegraph - October 2012

We were contacted by someone keen to expose the case of a whistleblower who claimed he had been unfairly forced out of the BBC after raising concerns about sexual harassment at the corporation.

The case raised important questions, especially in light of the BBC launching its own internal investigations following allegations it had covered up sexual assault.

BBC whistleblower 'was forced out after raising alarm about sexual discrimination'

A former BBC head of human resources claims he was forced out of his job after he tried to blow the whistle on sexual discrimination and harassment of women.

He has now asked MPs who will question the BBC director general next week to probe whether the corporation’s whistleblowing procedures are “fit for purpose”.

Mr Myers’ claims come after several female presenters alleged they were routinely groped by male colleagues at the BBC, sometimes while they were on air.

The BBC has launched an independent investigation into whether a culture of sexually harassing female employees existed at the corporation.

It has also asked a former High Court judge to find out whether the broadcaster covered up child sex abuse by Jimmy Savile.

But Mr Myers, who will seek compensation from the BBC at an employment tribunal hearing next year, told The Daily Telegraph that a culture of cover-ups still exists.

He said: “We need to ask the question about how the BBC currently deals with whistleblowers, and my experience is that whistleblowing is not tolerated, and if you blow the whistle on something like sexual discrimination you are harassed out of the organisation.”

Mr Myers, 38, resigned from his £77,000-a-year job as Head of HR, BBC Studios and Post Production, in December last year following an internal investigation into the behaviour of his £200,000-a-year boss, Mark Thomas.

A female manager had complained that Mr Thomas was forcing her out of the BBC by refusing to allow her to work part-time when she returned from maternity leave.

Mr Myers told an internal investigation into the matter that he believed Mr Thomas had been guilty of discrimination, but he claims that when his bosses drafted a formal response to the woman’s complaint, they asked him to sign a statement saying there had been no such discrimination.

He said: “I refused to change my evidence and because I refused to toe the BBC line I was bullied and harassed. It got to the point where it became intolerable so I resigned.”

Mr Myers has now taken the BBC to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract.

At an interim hearing in July the BBC tried to persuade an employment judge that the document Mr Myers had been asked to sign should be excluded from next year’s full hearing as a “privileged” document.

The judge refused, saying that Mr Myers had a right to waive his own privilege and rely on the document to support his claim “that improper pressure was put on him to say what was not true”.

The female employee has since come to an arrangement with the BBC to work part-time and is still employed by the corporation. The BBC’s own internal investigation into Mr Thomas’s behaviour cleared him of sexual discrimination but suggested his management style needed to be addressed.

A spokesman for the BBC said: “The BBC has clear whistleblowing mechanisms and harassment policies in place which are reviewed periodically.

"We are vigorously contesting the allegations made by Mr Myers.

"As these allegations are the subject of an on-going Employment Tribunal claim brought by Mr Myers it would be inappropriate for us to comment further”