Email from Mark Thompson to BBC staff
The following is the text of an email from Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, sent to BBC staff on Thursday 19 July.
Yesterday's news provoked a range of emotions in the BBC. Many were, like
me, shocked and disturbed to learn that a small number of our colleagues
were prepared to risk the reputation we have all fought so hard to build
at risk by deceiving the public. Some staff have wondered if our actions
yesterday were an overreaction.
I wanted to underline to you again that I and the BBC's directors are
together taking action because we believe that trust is the cornerstone
of the BBC's brand and heritage across the world. Nothing matters more
than that. We cannot, and will not, allow anything to risk our reputation
for integrity with our audiences.
The BBC Trust has, rightly in my view, demanded immediate and significant
action, and the announcement of the action we intend to take is only the
first step – now we must deliver.
Some newspapers and wire services, incidentally, have reported that I
said yesterday on BBC News 24 that I regarded the gross breaches of
editorial standards that we disclosed to be a "kind of white lie". What
I said on BBC News 24 was quite the opposite: "Somebody or a group of
people has taken it upon themselves to keep the programme on the air by
this kind of, what they might have regarded at the time as, a white lie.
The point I've tried to make to my colleagues today is that it is not
acceptable. It is much better to come clean. Tell the public. The public
will understand." There must be no doubt about this. Our colleagues in
BBC Information will tell you just how seriously our audiences regard
these deeply regrettable incidents. They are disappointed and very
angry. We all need to regain their trust. As I said on News 24, some in
the BBC may regard deception in competitions as "a white lie". It is not.
I regard it as a very grave breach of discipline.
I do appreciate that some of the actions I have announced, particularly
the suspension of competitions, will raise very significant challenges
for programme makers in the BBC, particularly in radio. My colleagues
and I passionately feel that this is the right decision to ensure that
the public and all of us have a BBC we believe in and feel proud of.
Over the next few days you will receive notification about meetings that
are taking place in your areas with your senior managers where you will
be able to discuss the challenges ahead and how you will be able to
address this issue together as one team in your area of output. I hope
you will not only attend these meetings, but take an active role in
helping us to put our house in order as quickly as possible. In addition,
please email me if there's anything else you think we should be doing to
During the coming weeks, I intend to communicate regularly with you on
developments and on how we are taking forward the action plan.
Thank you very much for your support.
All the best,
BBC Press Office