BBC sacks radio presenter for standing against Jacob Rees-Mogg

Dr Phil Hammond has been sacked by the BBC for planning to contest the seat held by Jacob Rees-Mogg
Dr Phil Hammond has been sacked by the BBC for planning to contest the seat held by Jacob Rees-Mogg
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A BBC radio presenter says he has been sacked by the corporation for planning to stand against Jacob Rees-Mogg at the next general election.

Dr Phil Hammond said he had been assured he could continue to broadcast Saturday Surgery on Radio Bristol after announcing on television in July he had been endorsed by the National Health Action Party to contest North East Somerset.

But after again mentioning he had been chosen as a prospective parliamentary candidate against Mr Rees-Mogg in a tweet yesterday, the presenter said he was dismissed from the programme he has fronted for the past 12 years.

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The NHS doctor, who is also Private Eye’s medical correspondent, said he was “very sad and a little puzzled” by the decision, which the BBC said was in keeping with its editorial guidelines.

Dr Hammond, who lives in the constituency he plans to contest, said: “I strongly suspect whoever made this decision has never listened to any of my broadcasts.

“Such a sudden decision smells strongly of fear.

“There is no political bias on the Saturday Surgery, just three hours of health and happiness with some live music.”

In a statement on his website, the outspoken medic said the head of BBC Radio Bristol, Jess Rudkin, knew of his intention to stand.

He said he was “advised that it should not be a problem, but that he would have to stand down during purdah” before any election.

Dr Hammond said doctors were allowed to stand for Parliament or become priests as long as they did not bring their views to work. He said BBC presenters “should be trusted to broadcast without bias despite their declared political affiliations”.

Mr Rees-Mogg was first elected in North East Somerset in 2010 and held onto the seat in 2017, with a majority of 10,235.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Impartiality is at the heart of our journalism. Active political involvement is an area covered by our editorial guidelines.

“Standing as a candidate in an election is a conflict of interest and someone seeking election is unable to continue in this type of editorial role.”