Ross loses £1.3m in 12-week suspension as Radio 2 controller quits

LONDON - Jonathan Ross will lose out on £1.3m over the prank calls to Andrew Sachs after being suspended without pay for 12 weeks, while BBC Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas has resigned from her job after more than 20 years.

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Ross was given a final warning by BBC director-general Mark Thompson for leaving messages on 'Fawlty Towers' star Andrew Sachs' answer phone saying Russell Brand had "fucked" his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

Thompson reported to a meeting of the BBC Trust editorial standards committee yesterday on the circumstances surrounding the broadcast of the Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2 on October 18.

Tim Davie, director of BBC audio and music, reported on the known facts behind the making of the programme, its content and what occurred during the editorial supervision and compliance of the broadcast.

Thompson said: "The ultimate editorial responsibility for BBC programmes lies with producers and editorial managers. The consequences of errors of judgement are therefore more serious for managers.

"Nonetheless, Jonathan Ross's contribution to this edition of the Russell Brand show was utterly unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go uncensored or without sanction.

"A 12-week suspension is an exceptional step, but I believe it is a proportionate response to Jonathan's role in this unhappy affair."

Douglas, who has worked at the BBC for 23 years, took the fall for the "unacceptable" broadcast by handing in her resignation.

In a letter to Thompson she said: "It is with enormous regret that I have decided to resign as controller of BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music and of Popular Music. This is my decision alone.

"Over the 23 years of my career at the BBC I have enjoyed a deep love and respect for both the audience and the BBC. The events of the last two weeks happened on my watch. I believe it is right that I take responsibility for what has happened."

The BBC Trust has also approved a series of proposed management actions to be carried out as a matter of urgency including re-assessing all programmes for editorial risk and giving "additional and strong oversight" to all those identified as representing a high risk.

The Daily Mail has today claimed victory in its campaign to get rid of Brand and Ross with the front page headline: "The BBC wakes up to decency" and a quote from columnist Richard Littlejohn claiming "A stunning victory over self-appointed, self-obsessed metropolitan narcissists who control so much of our public life".

Brand, who resigned on Wednesday over his role in the prank calls, is furious about Douglas taking the fall, according to the Daily Mirror. He said: "It's a shame an innovative woman has been sacrificed to quench the loopy appetites of a section of the media.

"I made a mistake, Jonathan was a bit daft - Lesley is not at all culpable. Perhaps when the licence fee's abolished we'll realise what we had."

 

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