Thursday, January 29, 2004

BBC and Hutton

Sequence of events. Secret meeting between an unidentified government scientist and a BBC journalist. Inaccurate reporting by the journalist, apparently quoting the scientist as impugning the integrity and honesty of Government and one named adviser. Major row between Government and BBC. Government scientist identified, publically interrogated, committed suicide.

Independent investigation under Lord Hutton found serious flaws in the procedures of the BBC. Chairman and Director-General resign. BBC enemies privately rejoicing. Question mark now hanging over the renewal of the licence fee.

What’s this got to do with the subject of this blog? It is a classic story of management controls failing to protect the viability of the organization, of journalists and senior managers alike making quick instinctive judgements without carefully checking their facts.