MPs have demanded that the BBC reveals details of all commercial deals its journalists have with other organisations, amid fears of an increasing number of conflicts of interest affecting their work.
The Corporation is under pressure following The Mail on Sunday’s disclosure two weeks ago that senior BBC journalist Roger Harrabin accepted £15,000 in grants from the University of East Anglia, which was at the heart of the ‘Climategate’ scandal, and then reported on the story without declaring this interest to viewers.
Under BBC rules, employees must register shareholdings, outside corporate work, voluntary positions, book contracts and relevant interests of family members and partners. But the BBC has refused to make public details of the register, despite a Freedom of Information request from this newspaper.
Now Conservative MPs Philip Davies and Damian Collins, both members of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, have promised to raise the issue with Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, and Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, when they appear before the committee later this month.
Mr Davies said: ‘The BBC receives around £3.5 billion of public money a year. If it doesn’t want to be publicly accountable, it should not have the advantages of this level of public funding.’
He added: ‘It defies logic to have declarations of personal interests and for nobody outside the BBC to know what they are.’