BBC risks a new impartiality row after Ofcom boss becomes lead contender for Corporation’s director of news
- Ofcom boss Kevin Bakhurst has become leading contender for BBC news role
- But the TV regulator has often accused of being too close to the Corporation
- Insiders have described the former Irish channel RTE boss as ‘safe pair of hands’
The BBC is risking a new impartiality row after Ofcom boss Kevin Bakhurst became a leading contender for the key role of director of news at the Corporation.
Mr Bakhurst, 55, a former news executive at the Irish channel RTE, is described by BBC insiders as a ‘safe pair of hands’ but he is currently on the board of directors at Ofcom, the TV regulator often accused of being too close to the Corporation.
Since joining Ofcom in 2016, Mr Bakhurst has served as group director of content and media policy work, which included regulation of the BBC. Before working for RTE, he was controller of BBC News.
Kevin Bakhurst, 55, a former news executive at the Irish channel RTE, is described by BBC insiders as a ‘safe pair of hands’ but he is currently on the board of directors at Ofcom, the TV regulator often accused of being too close to the Corporation
Mr Bakhurst’s emergence in the race for the job vacated by Fran Unsworth comes after BBC chiefs promised ‘an impartiality revolution’ prompted by rows over bias and the Martin Bashir scandal.
Heralding the initiative, BBC chairman Richard Sharp said: ‘This is a chance for the BBC to be what it always aspires to be from its original charter: fair, authoritative and impartial.’
The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that the departure of a senior board member at Ofcom in the wake of the Bashir scandal had reignited concerns about the closeness of the regulator to the BBC.
Tim Suter, a former managing director of programmes at the BBC, was criticised in Lord Dyson’s report into how Bashir landed his infamous 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
Mr Suter, 64, played a key role in the internal investigation that concluded that Bashir’s actions were ‘absolutely straight and fair’.
Other contenders for the job include Jonathan Munro, who was involved in the decision to allow Bashir to rejoin the BBC as religious correspondent in 2016, and Jamie Angus.
The BBC declined to comment.