Saturday, June 13, 2015

Miked up

It's almost like a hypothetical from an HR exam. Employee overhears bosses in private conversation, conducted in a closed room that they thought was secure, but happens to be miked up. Employee, using adjoining room for lunch, hears the exchange over speakers that have been left on, records conversation, and presents it as evidence of boss's bullying in a grievance. Q: Can a private conversation be deemed bullying ? Please write on one side of the paper at a time.

According to The Guardian, Zoe MacDonald, a BBC Scotland news camerawoman in her mid-forties overheard John Boothman, Head of News and Current Affairs in conversation with a personnel officer, as he made a series of highly personal and critical remarks about her. She made a grievance complaint (BBC medieval HR-speak) in February this year. The hearing, which would have to have been conducted by someone at least one level above Boothman, found against him in early May.

Zoe (rated by BBC Scotland political guru Brian Taylor as an "esteemed colleague") managed this piece in April, but since has been on long-term leave for stress. Boothman is said to have given her a "fulsome" [sic] apology this week. This suggests that Mr Boothman appealed against the first decision, and a second hearing, up another level, confirmed the original verdict. There are some suggestions the HR officer involved has departed, but there's no word of what sanction has been imposed on Mr Boothman.

The dispute has added piquancy. John Boothman, who affects an "I Claudius" haircut, is married to Susan Deacon, Labour MSP for Edinburgh East & Musselburgh from 1999 to 2007, who served as Health Minister under Donald Dewar. Zoe is the daughter of SNP heroine Margo MacDonald by her first marriage. Margo died after a long battle with Parkinson's last year; Zoe is still based in Edinburgh close to Zoe's second husband, Jim Sillars - and handed one of Margo's scarves to new SNP heroine Mhairi Black in the General Election campaign.

What next ?  The NUJ met BBC bosses yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. From The Guardian article:
    "Boothman is married to Susan Deacon, a former Labour minister and MSP, and is seen as closely aligned to Labour."
    I never thought I'd see the day when the BBC's print edition made such an admission.


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