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Chilcot Report Conflict of Interests

Sam Bright made this Freedom of Information request to British Broadcasting Corporation

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

We're waiting for Sam Bright to read recent responses and update the status.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

In light of the upcoming publication of the Chilcot Report and the BBC’s coverage of its contents, I request information regarding controls in place to manage conflicts of interests between various senior individuals now working at the BBC who, at the time of the Iraq invasion, were closely associated with Tony Blair and Jack Straw. The request is also made to establish what dialogue has already taken place relating to the contents of the Chilcot Report between the named individuals below and key individuals internal and external to the organisation identified at the end of this request .

Those concerned are

James Purnell
Former special advisor to Tony Blair and Labour MP who voted in favour of the invasion of Iraq and against an investigation into the war. He is now understood to be the senior executive responsible for the BBC's press office and public affairs teams.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidet...
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/11176/j...
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/11176/j...

Clare Sumner
Former private secretary to Tony Blair and named in evidence supplied to the Hutton Inquiry as an individual involved in the government’s response to the BBC's coverage of the decision to take part in the invasion of Iraq. Ms Sumner is now chief of staff to the BBC's Director General and assumed chief complaints editor (a role undertaken by her predecessor). Being chief complaints editor suggests some responsibility over the BBC’s chief complaints advisor.
http://tradingaswdr.blogspot.co.uk/2014/...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestn...
http://www.scotsman.com/news/what-butler...

Alice Perkins
BBC non-executive director and wife of Jack Straw
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Perk...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidet...

Godric Smith
Spokesperson for Tony Blair at the time of the invasion and now PR consultant to the BBC’s Director General
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/...

Clearly these individuals are not involved in programme making but are in positions of influence over the Director General regarding the BBC's internal and external response to the report.

Given that there is strong likelihood that the Chilcot report will provoke considerable reaction within the general public, it is therefore likely (rightly or wrongly) that some degree of complaint about BBC coverage is inevitable. My request seeks clarification on how such complaints will be assessed without bias given the arbitrators' close personal connections to the events discussed and those due to be criticised in the report.

Additionally, internal briefings and discussions are likely to take place regarding the contents of the report including measured assessment of the public, political and press reaction. There is also potential for BBC journalists to undertake future investigations into the findings of the report. The named individuals would ordinarily be privy to such information and in position to influence any BBC response*. This request again seeks clarification on measures in place to ensure how this privileged confidential insight will not then be shared directly with Mr Blair and Mr Straw and their associates, therefore giving them a media advantage not afforded to others.

Please provide all details of the arrangements in place to mitigate conflicts of interest arising the named individuals above around these processes.

Requested information includes

i. Information in any written form including emails, meeting notes, minutes and text messages concerning the Chilcot report and the above named individuals. This information could be to/from these individuals themselves or to/from employees with the following roles or responsibilities - the Director General (Tony Hall) or staff working within his office, press office (John Shield), editorial policy director (David Jordan), chief political advisor (Rick Bailey), chief complaints advisor (Dominic Groves), chairman of the Trust (Rona Fairhead) or staff working on her behalf within the BBC Trust, director of news (James Harding), director of HR, the head of the editorial complaints unit. Please also include the same information to and from staff of Portland Communications. This request extends to the use of personal email addresses and texts where the BBC is discussed.

ii. The relevant completed conflict of interest forms/statements relating to this matter

* NB The context of the request is that the BBC coverage at the time regularly forms part of the historical narrative of the events leading to the decision for the UK to take part in the war. It is used regularly as an example of Tony Blair and Jack Straw's attempts to misrepresent intelligence thereby manipulating parliament and the public about the legitimacy of the evidence supporting the invasion e.g. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol.... It is therefore anticipated that the BBC's press office will receive media requests from other outlets following release of the report and that the report will be discussed at high levels of the organisation.

Yours faithfully,

Sam Bright

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Sam Bright,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your request was received on 5 July 2016. We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days.

If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the above address.

The reference number for your request is RFI20161307.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights, BBC Legal
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

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Pat James (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

A response to this very important public interest request is now overdue.

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Your response is overdue.

Please supply copies of all correspondence (including emails, text messages, meeting notes or any other written material) relating to my original FOI request. This second FOI request extends to all identified in the original request plus those tasked in anyway with the handling of its response.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Bright

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Sam Bright,

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your request (RFI20161307). We are still working on your request and as soon as we are in a position to provide a substantive response to you a reply will be sent.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

With regard to your second FOI request the reference number for this new request is RFI20161509.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights, BBC Legal
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

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Dear FOI Enquiries,

The answer to this request is now very overdue. Please can you undertake an internal review into the delay in responding to this request?

Yours sincerely,

Sam Bright

Pat James (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

I note that no explanation or reason has been given for this further delay in furnishing the requested information. Please prepare yourself for an erroneous application of an exemption.

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Sam Bright,

We have received your request for an internal review which was received on 3 September 2016.  We shall deal with the review as promptly as possible and, at the latest, within 20 working days. If you have any queries please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your internal review is IR2016072.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights, BBC Legal
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear Sam Bright,

 

Please find attached a Public Interest Test Notice regarding information
reference RFI20161509.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Rights, BBC Legal

BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

[1]Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

 

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References

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Bright,

                                                     

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20161307.

 

Yours sincerely

 

BBC Information Policy and Compliance

Room BC2 A4

Broadcast Centre

White City

London

W12 7TS

UK

 

Website: [1]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]

 

[3]Description: Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

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References

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1. file:///tmp/www.bbc.co.uk/foi
2. mailto:[BBC request email]
4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Bright,

                                                     

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20161509.

 

Yours sincerely

 

BBC Information Policy and Compliance

Room BC2 A4

Broadcast Centre

White City

London

W12 7TS

UK

 

Website: [1]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]

 

[3]Description: Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/www.bbc.co.uk/foi
2. mailto:[BBC request email]
4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Sam Bright

Our references: IR2016072 / RFI20161307

Please find attached the internal review decision relating to your request for information designated RFI20161307.

Regards

BBC Information Rights
BC2 A5, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP

www.bbc.co.uk/foi
Email: [BBC request email]

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Sam Bright please sign in and let everyone know.