Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Derek Tucker: We fund the BBC and government and I’m sick of their constant cover-ups

The words 'stable door', 'horse' and 'bolted' spring to mind when it comes to Martin Bashir's Princess Diana interview, writes Derek Tucker
The words 'stable door', 'horse' and 'bolted' spring to mind when it comes to Martin Bashir's Princess Diana interview, writes Derek Tucker

Two of my favourite hobby horses have, in the past week, dominated whatever small segments of news agendas that coronavirus couldn’t fill.

I’m talking, of course, about the BBC and politics. Or, to be precise, the people who work in the political system.

Derek Tucker

Sometimes I think my age-related grumpiness has caused me to harbour such deep resentment of these publicly-funded sectors. Even my wife calls me Mr Grumpy. But then I study the reports of their increasingly frequent misdemeanours and convince myself that it is not just me.

Let’s start with the BBC and the scandal involving Martin Bashir, the now discredited journalist who used forged documents and lies to persuade Princess Diana to give her explosive interview laying bare the deep-rooted unhappiness within her marriage to the Prince of Wales.

Exposed failures changed nothing

To put the BBC’s conduct into perspective, it is important to look back at its actions – or lack of them – over the Jimmy Savile and Cliff Richard controversies. On both occasions, the corporation spectacularly failed to demonstrate the editorial judgement people are entitled to expect, and which the BBC claims to be at the top of its list of corporate priorities.

The BBC managers supposed to be ensuring fair play remained in post and the only casualties were the foot soldiers at the bottom of the food chain

On both occasions, its failure was exposed by external inquiries. And, on both occasions, it resolved to learn lessons from those failures. But what actually happened?

The managers supposed to be ensuring fair play remained in post and the only casualties were the foot soldiers at the bottom of the food chain.

Internal investigations were superficial at best

The Diana interview in 1996 had hardly faded from our TV screens before rumours started to circulate that something wasn’t quite right.

They started in London, where the vast majority of media outlets are based, but the ripples reached us up here in Scotland. The whispers should have been loud enough to ring alarm bells at the BBC, but any internal investigation that did take place was superficial at best and concluded that Bashir was in the clear.

Martin Bashir persuaded Princess Diana to reveal details about her marriage to the Prince of Wales using forged documents

Fast forward 25 years and Lord Dyson was able to determine fairly easily that that was by no means the case. Bashir, meanwhile, had used the intervening period to feather his own nest, his CV greatly enhanced by the interview, only to return to the BBC when his career began to falter and later to be promoted to Religious Editor, in which capacity he appears to have become completely invisible.

Another whitewash under way

Faced with the damning criticism from Lord Dyson, the BBC was left with no alternative but to apologise, having first allowed Bashir to resign to concentrate on his health, and promised a review into its conduct and its editorial policies.

The words “stable door”, “horse” and “bolted” spring to mind, but – just in case anyone is fooled into thinking that this will be the forensic examination which should have taken place all those years ago – the corporation says the inquiry will look into its “world class journalism”.

So, there you have it. Job done. Whitewash under way.

Lord Dyson highlighted Martin Bashir’s wrongdoing and criticised the BBC

If the BBC really wants to put in place the robust system of governance it claims to crave, it could start by replacing the sycophants on its governing body with people who would question its procedures at the time they are employed, rather than wait for the next stinging rebuke before opening their mouths. No, that’s not a job application.

A formal government inquiry will take years

And so to politics. Dominic Cummings provided the entertainment on this front, savaging Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock in what one commentator called a revenge drive-by shooting.

Such was the ferocity of Cummings’ attack that Matt Hancock went out jogging in front of the assembled camera crews and Boris Johnson had to get married again to try to divert attention

Such was the ferocity of his attack that Matt Hancock went out jogging in front of the assembled camera crews and Boris Johnson had to get married again to try to divert attention from what he said.

I have no idea at all how much of Cummings’ evidence was factual and how much was creative, but I do find it thoroughly amusing that the man who said he went to Barnard Castle during lockdown to test his eyesight before attempting to drive back to London is now believed to be telling the truth when he lays into his ex-boss.

Perhaps the real picture will emerge when the formal inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic begins next year and reports back three years later. I can’t wait.

Grumpy? Moi?


Derek Tucker is a former editor of the Press & Journal

Read more by Derek Tucker:

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]