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Serota Review into BBC recognises role whistleblowing plays in good governance

Protect welcomes the findings of the Serota Review into editorial processes at the BBC which recognises the vital role whistleblowing plays in an organisation’s governance. 

  ‘The Serota Review – BBC editorial processes, governance, and culture’ commissioned by the BBC to learn from mistakes from the past, follows the Dyson report into the scandal around the Martin Bashir Panorama interview with Princess Diana.

The review noted improvements in whistleblowing and investigation since the 1990s, but found there were still improvements to be made in how to raise editorial concerns.  Staff, particularly younger staff, wanted channels outside of line management to raise concerns and there was still apprehension about the impact of speaking up on career prospects. 

The Review makes a number of important recommendations about whistleblowing:  

  • Senior individuals in each division should be identified as recipients of concerns outside of line management 
  • There should be a clear editorial whistleblowing policy, with the same level of protection and clarity of investigation offered to those who raise other concerns such as fraud or health and safety  
  • There should be a wide range of channels for raising editorial concerns, including a route to the Senior Independent Director on the Board 
  • At the top of the organisation, editorial whistleblowing data should be reported to the Editorial Guidelines and Standards Committee, and provided to the regulator, Ofcom.   

Protect Chief Executive Liz Gardiner said, “We welcome the Serota Review findings, and the emphasis on strengthening whistleblowing arrangements, particularly for those raising editorial concerns.   

“There is clearly more to do to promote a culture of transparency in which all staff feel comfortable raising concerns.  Policy improvements need to go alongside communications and training for those who work with and for the BBC.  We welcome the joining up of discussions about editorial and other risks at the highest level, and the reporting of data, including feedback from whistleblowers using the systems, to encourage continued learning and improvement.” 

Protect is working with the BBC who will use our Benchmark to test the effectiveness of its whistleblowing arrangements.