BBC workers asked not to discuss ‘our problems’ over Twitter

BBC headquarters in London. Picture: AP
BBC headquarters in London. Picture: AP
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THE BBC’s acting head of news has appealed to staff not to “publicly” play out “our problems” as the corporation’s reshuffled senior management tries to take control of the scandal surrounding the botched Newsnight child abuse investigation.

Fran Unsworth yesterday asked journalists to think again before airing details of the organisation’s difficulties on social media networks or leaking them to the press, insisting a united front is vital if the BBC is to restore public trust in its news output.

Ms Unsworth was the head of newsgathering, but on Monday she was parachuted into her new role after Helen Boaden, the head of news, “stepped aside” pending an internal inquiry. Ms Unsworth said she was focused on restoring “equilibrium” following several damaging weeks for the BBC’s news division.

Some of the corporation’s most well-known figures, including political editor Nick Robinson, business editor Robert Peston and world affairs editor John Simpson, have reported candidly about the internal difficulties in the BBC in recent days.

But in an internal e-mail to staff, Ms Unsworth wrote: “It would be helpful if some of our problems were not played out publicly across social media and in the pages of the national press. We need a collective and collegiate sense of all pulling together to restore trust in the BBC’s news output.”

She praised Ms Boaden and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, who also “stepped aside” earlier this week, adding: “This is a tough time for everyone in the organisation – in particular for those of us in BBC News.”