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Saturday, 6 July 2013

Inquest Verdict: BBC Reporter Committed Suicide

A coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide in relation to a BBC local reporter that killed himself shortly after accusing bosses of failing to take his reports of sexual harassment seriously.

Coroner Louise Hunt, presiding at the Leamington Spa inquest, heard how Russell Joslin suspected BBC bosses of covering up his allegations against an unnamed female colleague.

Mr Joslin, who was employed as a reporter at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, was said to be furious that the woman, identified as Colleague A in a BBC report into the tragedy, herself made claims of sexual harassment in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal.

The BBC's report, written by HR consultant Lesley Granger, included several witness comments critical of Colleague A, including: "Everyone knew that the [person] in question was very difficult to work with, even for people in positions of authority"; "Managers were scared to confront [Colleague A]"; "No-one would challenge her". One can only speculate what expletive was used in place of "[person]" in that first quote.

Colleague A was also accused of "cutting people off the air" if she didn't like what they were saying. Granger suggested that Colleague A's strong and dominating personality may have been the reason Mr Joslin was unwilling to make a formal complaint about her conduct.

The unnamed woman was accused of sending Mr Joslin a series of unpleasant text messages, including one that said: "Do what you have to at the BBC cause you are a loser on 27 grand a year. But don’t ever encroach on me or my talent".

Following the publication of the report the BBC apologised to the Joslin family and admitted their handling of Mr Joslin's complaints "was not good enough".

Mr Joslin died on 22nd October 2012, three days after being admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Warwick for deliberately walking in front of a bus.

In delivering her verdict the coroner said: "He had had a lack of sleep, there was a lack of career progression and he was frustrated with the situation with the colleague.

"I don't think one of those factors can be split out. In my view they were all relevant and interplayed together."

So, there you have it, the BBC culture of workplace bullying is back in the headlines.

I've had to show incredible restraint not to mention the name of Colleague A, particularly as her identity is one of the worst kept secrets in British broadcasting!

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