NUJ accuses BBC of spying on officials

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The National Union of Journalists has accused BBC management of spying on its officials, hacking into their emails and forcing active union members from their jobs 'on trumped-up charges'.

The allegations - which the BBC has dismissed as 'false and without foundation' - relate to a period in 2010 when the BBC was in dispute with the unions over pension reforms.

They are based on evidence from a BBC whistleblower, a former BBC HR employee, who claims in a 'sworn statement' that the pension changes were part of a wider plot to replace experienced BBC staff with cheaper replacements.

The whistleblower alleges that this included the targeting of certain employees with made up disciplinary charges and the misuse of performance management techniques, and that a unit led by HR director Lucy Adams was behind the 'dirty tricks'.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: 'This evidence shows there has been a long-term strategy at the BBC, under the leadership of Lucy Adams, to destroy the working relationship between BBC staff, their management and their unions.'

But the BBC has rejected the union claims outright. 'The NUJ's suggestion that Lucy Adams hacked emails or authorised anyone else to do so or that she orchestrated or authorised any smear campaign against any BBC staff is false and without foundation,' said a BBC statement.

'It is extremely disappointing that these allegations have been made by the NUJ when they cannot be substantiated. BBC Management remains committed to working with the NUJ but today's actions make that significantly harder and that benefits no-one.'

The union is now calling for a full investigation into the claims and the suspension of Adams - who announced on Thursday that she would be leaving the BBC next year - pending the outcome.

The NUJ also wants the BBC pension negotiations to be reopened as, it argues, previous talks were 'compromised'.

The BBC confirmed that it would not be suspending Adams who issued her own statement rejecting the claims as having 'no truth in them whatsoever' and describing them as 'highly defamatory'.

'This is an unwarranted and very personal attack and I have instructed a lawyer to take matters further,' she said.

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