BBC Scotland and the Staff Political Vetting Scandal and they said there was no anti – Scot bias – Dream On

 

 

 

 

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August 2018: BBC Scotland – counter subversion vetting of staff

Unionist politicians of the Labour Tory and Lib/Dem party’s cast scorn on anyone raising the spectre of state control of the BBC in Scotland but finally the evidence is in the public domain.

It is a tale of secret agents and surveillance that could have come straight out the BBC Scotland’s classic spy drama “Whisky Galore”. But the difference is that genuine spies are involved and they are operating behind the scenes at BBC Scotland.

Confidential papers, obtained and released by the whistle-blower “Jock Tamson” reveal that BBC Scotland allowed MI5 to investigate the backgrounds and political affiliations of around 400 of its employees, including newsreaders, reporters, continuity announcers, television producers, directors, sound engineers, secretaries and researchers.

The files, shed light on the BBC Scotland’s hitherto secret links with the Security Service and show that it is responsible for vetting 450 different BBC Scotland posts.

They also confirm that the corporation in Scotland holds a list of “subversive organizations” and that evidence of certain kinds of political activity are a bar to appointment or promotion.

BBC Scotland’s reliance on MI5 reached a peak between 2010 and 2018 just when the “Outlander” series, was denied to the Scottish viewing public, at the time of the 2014 “Independence Referendum” by arrangement with the Tory government and the Sony corporation.

The papers show that senior BBC Scotland figures covered up these links in the face of awkward questions from trade unions and the press. The documents refer to a “defensive strategy” based on “categorical denial”. One file note, dated 1 March 2013, states: “Keep head down and stonewall all questions.”

BBC Scotland, has always refused to be drawn on the extent of its collaboration with the secret services. It is only now, after the information was gathered and distributed by “Jock Tamson” that it has finally been willing to release details of the vetting operation.

Another internal BBC Scotland document, dated 2011, confirmed: “We supply personal details to the Security Service. If there is any adverse information known, we receive this information also, where necessary, an assessment based upon the involvement of the individual. This is presented to us as advice; line management then make the decision as to action.”

The documents do not name any of the individuals subjected to vetting, but it is accepted that many of BBC Scotland’s best known news presenters and other high profile figures are included.

Many employees, including senior officials, and their support staff have been checked because of their access to confidential government information in relation to their jobs as have those involved in live broadcasts since BBC Scotland is worried about the possibility of on-air favoritism of the SNP or other bias damaging to the Westminster state.

The details of freelance television and radio staff are also routinely passed on to the security services and even the posts of editor and deputy editor of Radio Scotland are subject to background checks by MI5.

In many cases, the spouses of applicants are also subject to scrutiny. Positively vetted (PV) staff have the “union Jack” are tattooed inside their bottom lip for identification purposes, resulting in some news readers and presenters delivering their speil from the side of their mouth. A dead giveaway.    BBC Scotland declined to-comment.

 

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The foregoing was “fake news” or was it ???? The article reprinted in full was published in the Telegraph

 

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2 July 2006: Revealed: how the BBC used MI5 to vet thousands of staff

It is a tale of secret agents and surveillance that could have come straight out the BBC’s classic spy drama Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

But the difference is that genuine spies were involved and they were operating behind the scenes at Broadcasting House rather than on the small screen.

Confidential papers, obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, have revealed that the BBC allowed MI5 to investigate the backgrounds and political affiliations of -thousands of its employees, including newsreaders, reporters and continuity announcers.

The files, which shed light on the BBC’s hitherto secret links with the Security Service, show that at one stage it was responsible for vetting 6,300 different BBC posts – almost a third of the total workforce.

They also confirm that the corporation held a list of “subversive organizations” and that evidence of certain kinds of political activity could be a bar to appointment or promotion.

The BBC’s reliance on MI5 reached a peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s at exactly the same time as millions of viewers were tuning into the fictional adventures of George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and -Smiley’s People.

David Dimbleby, John Humphrys and Anna Ford all began their careers with the broadcaster when the system was still in place.

The papers show that senior BBC figures covered up these links in the face of awkward questions from trade unions and the press. The documents refer to a “defensive strategy” based on “categorical denial”. One file note, dated March 1 1985, states: “Keep head down and stonewall all questions.”

The BBC, however, has always refused to be drawn on the extent of its collaboration with the secret services.

It is only now, after a request by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, that it has finally been willing to release details of the vetting operation.

Another internal BBC document, dated 1983, confirms: “We supply personal details to the Security Service. If there is any adverse information known, we receive this information and also, where necessary, an assessment based upon the involvement of the individual. This is presented to us as advice; line management then make the decision as to action.”

The documents do not name any of the individuals subjected to vetting, but it is possible that some of the BBC’s biggest names were scrutinized.

Different posts were vetted for different reasons. Senior officials, including the director-general, and their support staff were checked because they had access to confidential government information in relation to their jobs. But thousands of employees were vetted because they were involved in live broadcasts and the BBC was worried about the possibility of on-air bias or disruption.

In 1983, 5,728 BBC jobs were subjected to this second kind of scrutiny known as “counter-subversion vetting”.

The vetting system, which was phased out in the late 1980s, also applied to dozens of other employees, including television producers, directors, sound engineers, secretaries and researchers.

The details of freelance television and radio staff were also routinely passed on to the security services and even the posts of editor and deputy editor of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour were subject to background checks by MI5. In many cases, the spouses of applicants were also subjected to scrutiny.

The BBC tried on several occasions to be more open about the system, but was blocked by the Security Service. A memo, dated March 7 1985, states: “Secrecy of the complete vetting operation is imposed upon us by the Security Service – it is not of our making.”

For their part, the security services were increasingly concerned about the number of people being referred to them by the BBC. During the first four months of 1983, they were asked to investigate 619 different individuals.

In the early 1980s, the BBC had a list of “major subversive organizations”, which included the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, Militant Tendency, the National Front and the British National Party.

In contrast, CND, which was very popular at the time, was not regarded as a “subversive organization”. Youthful attachments to extreme causes did not necessarily mean an automatic ban on employment.

The papers show that, in 1968, Sir Hugh Greene, the BBC’s then director-general, and John Arkell, the head of administration, successfully evaded questions on the issue during an interview with a journalist.

A memo from Mr Arkell, dated March 1 1968, to another senior colleague states: “You might like to get a bit of credit for the BBC next time you talk to MI5 by telling them that I stuck resolutely to the brief which you prepared for me in spite of very pointed and penetrating questions. “I still denied that we had any vetting procedures.” The BBC declined to -comment.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1522875/Revealed-how-the-BBC-used-MI5-to-vet-thousands-of-staff.html

 

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