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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Controversial BBC Midlands Boss Decides to Jump Ship

Cath Hearne, the Head of Regional & Local Programmes (HRLP) for the BBC Midlands Region, has decided to leave the gravy train at the next station.

We have been following Hearne with some interest over the past couple of years, ever since an article called "BBC Midlands Today staff threaten strike over alleged bullying" was published on the Birmingham Post website in October 2010.

Hearne, originally a teacher from Newcastle, was appointed HRLP for BBC Midlands in February 2009. Within the space of a few months she was at the centre of controversy by ditching DJ Liz Kershaw from the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire breakfast show. As a result of being axed Kershaw, who it appears has a forthright approach to electronic communications, reportedly sent her an email, copied to all of the staff in the Region, saying: "Watch your back Cath. Beware the Ides of March etc. Could be your turn next."

The Birmingham Post article said: "Staff at BBC Midlands Today have passed a vote of no confidence in management amid claims of widespread bullying and intimidation at the Birmingham television operation."

An unnamed BBC insider was quoted as saying: "Back in March (2010) we wrote a letter to David Holdsworth (the Controller of BBC English Regions) outlining the problems with bullying but nothing was done."

Hearne was HRLP at the time BBC Coventry and Warwickshire reporter Russell Joslin, who we mentioned yesterday, was making his own allegations of harassment and inappropriate conduct within the Region.

She came back onto our radar at the start of the year when former BBC presenter Suzanne Virdee, who had fronted the BBC Midlands Today programme for more than a decade, was awarded a cash payout to prevent her from taking the BBC to an employment tribunal. According to reports Virdee had experienced a particularly ignominious dismissal, which allegedly involved Hearne ordering her out of The Mailbox two days before her contract was due to end.

The National Union of Journalists held an emergency meeting to condemn the BBC’s treatment of Virdee and passed a motion of no confidence in Hearne's management.

At the start of the year a colleague asked the BBC for further information about allegations of bullying within the BBC Midlands Region. True to form the BBC refused to release the information. The BBC is currently late in responding to a second request on the same topic.

Hearne has given no explanation for her departure from the BBC, which she announced in an email to staff: "Hello Everyone, This isn't your usual Midlands Midweek update.

"I wanted you all to know that I've decided to leave the BBC in the autumn. I can't quite imagine how life will be after 20 years working with talented people making great programmes that audiences love."

Don't let the door hit you on the arse on the way out Cath.

Edit (8/7/13): We have made minor changes to this article, to reflect that the Birmingham Post article is still available online. Having now spoken to the Birmingham Post, they tell us that our original link was broken when they recently moved their website to a .co.uk domain name.

1 comment:

John Galt said...

Having read both this posting and the earlier one, certain words seem to form in my mind...serendipity, synchronicity and for some reason a 1963 Daily Mail front page with an adjacent picture of John Profumo and Miss Christine Keeler.

I blame the magic mushrooms I've been eating obviously...