The BBC is facing calls for an external audit after it was claimed the broadcaster may have used taxpayer funds to pay off employees who were victims of discrimination, harassment and bullying.
Labour MP David Lammy has said he will be calling on the National Audit Office and requesting a formal inquiry into the “unacceptable” payoffs, which have reportedly used TV license fee money to pay off workers with complaints.
Lammy, a former culture minister, has already asked current Culture Secretary Matt Hancock whether or not the BBC has used public funds to deal with complainants privately. He will now ask the audit office and parliamentary committees to get answers.
The potential audit comes in response to allegations earlier this month by the BBC’s former China editor, Carrie Gracie, who quit in a very public open letter designed to expose the BBC’s equal pay failings.
“The BBC often settles cases out of court and demands non-disclosure agreements, a habit unworthy of an organisation committed to truth, and one which does nothing to resolve the systemic problem,” she said in her letter.
Lammy told the Sunday Times that although many organizations used out of court settlements, “questions have to be asked about how these agreements can be used to cover up incidents involving alleged or potential sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination.”
The Labour MP said such agreements are used by the wealthy and institutions to silence “the voices of the victim in order to protect the reputations and positions of the powerful.” He also said such agreements could mean institutions avoid dealing with “systemic” problems.
The BBC told the Times that it had not used a “settlement agreement for over two years” to resolve a pay claim, and since the summer a number of pay claims involving women had been resolved.
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