MEDIA

Sex harassment rare at BBC but bullying 'a very real concern'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 1:49am

A report into staff behaviour at the BBC commissioned after the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal concluded yesterday that sexual harassment was rare, but bullying was a "very real concern".

The report said bullying was not "pervasive or endemic" at the British broadcaster but was nonetheless "visible, frequent and consistent".

The review was ordered into BBC policies on sexual harassment after revelations that late presenter Savile had abused children throughout his career, including on BBC premises. It was later widened to include behaviour in the workplace. The 80-page "Respect at Work" report, compiled by lawyer Dinah Rose, found evidence of some sexual harassment at the BBC "but it is now very rare". Many of the submissions it received dated back to "10, 20 or more years ago".

There have been 37 formal complaints of sexual harassment over the past six years, an average of only six per year, out of a population of approximately 22,000 staff and 60,000 freelancers

It said: "There have been 37 formal complaints of sexual harassment over the past six years, an average of only six per year, out of a population of approximately 22,000 staff and 60,000 freelancers. Sexual harassment was not a common theme of the experiences of unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour reported by contributors."

The report did find proof of inappropriate behaviour and bullying, following complaints by trade unions who say cost-cutting is making the problem worse.

"Often this behaviour appears to go unchallenged by senior managers. Some individuals are seen as being 'untouchable' due to their perceived value to the BBC," it said.

"There is confusion as to what constitutes robust management of performance and what is bullying.

"It is not pervasive or endemic in today's BBC but it is visible, frequent and consistent enough to be a very real concern."

BBC director-general Tony Hall said parts of the report made for "uncomfortable reading".