BBC boss Tim Davie addresses ‘antisemitic behaviour’ in note to staff

BBC director-general Tim Davie has said the corporation has been “alerted to antisemitic behaviour by people who worked with us” in a note sent to staff.

In an internal email, the BBC boss stated there was “no place at the BBC for racist abuse of any kind” including antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism.

It comes after the broadcaster received a number of complaints about its reporting of the Israel-Hamas war and faced further scrutiny when it was discovered a contestant on the BBC series The Apprentice had made remarks on social media about the conflict.

BBC Stock
BBC Broadcasting House in London (Ian West/PA)

“As many of you may have seen, sadly in recent weeks we have been alerted to some antisemitic behaviour by people who worked with us.

“I want to be clear that there can be no place at the BBC for racist abuse of any kind, whether towards our Jewish colleagues or indeed colleagues from any background or belief.

“Any form of antisemitism, Islamophobia or racist abuse is abhorrent, and we will always act whenever it occurs.

“We must play our role to build understanding and tolerance.”

He also described the corporation’s diversity of views as “critical to a creative organisation that serves the public”.

Mr Davie encouraged those who have concerns “about any form of abuse” to inform their manager or use their whistleblowing services, adding: “The senior team and I are listening”.

In response to the email, former director of BBC Television, Danny Cohen, said in a statement: “The director general has at last acknowledged that the BBC has a problem with antisemitism.

“The evidence is irrefutable.

“It has taken months too long for this acknowledgment to happen.”

He described it as a “significant management failure on racism” and claims it has had a “damaging and distressing impact on British Jews”.

“I’m sure that the Jewish community won’t find much comfort in this email. Actions are what matter”, he added.

A Jewish BBC member of staff, who wanted to remain anonymous, responded to the letter by saying “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

“Heard him say the same stuff before but still the same behaviour and attitudes are being tolerated and explained away”, they added.

“Of course it’s good to see this in writing from Tim but it actually makes me want to cry that it’s just in writing and not in practice.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed the note to staff from Mr Davie but described it as “long-overdue”.

They added: “We will have to judge the Corporation by its actions not its words.

“Until matters do improve, we are offering free legal representation to all BBC staff affected by anti-Jewish racism.”

A report on October 17 about a blast at the al Ahli hospital “wrongly attributed” it to the Israeli military, which blamed a rocket misfire by Palestinian militants, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

The BBC acknowledged that it was “wrong to speculate” on the causes of the blast and apologised.

A contestant on the current series of BBC’s The Apprentice also recently issued an apology after making remarks on social media about the Hamas invasion of Israel, Zionism, Islam and masculinity.

Asif Munaf, a doctor from Sheffield who has also appeared on BBC One show Dragons’ Den, was spoken to by producers so he could “understand why his posts may cause offence” and was provided with “specialist training” after his posts were discovered.

In a statement, Mr Munaf said he apologised for “any offence caused by my online content/social media” but denied allegations of antisemitism.

A BBC Three employee who posted antisemitic comments on social media was also sacked by the corporation earlier this month, according to reports.

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