Room 105 & Zircon Affair

How accurate is the claim that the BBC is independent of state and government influence?

Revealed: Room 105 - how MI5 vets BBC staff.
David Leigh and Paul Lashmar, The Observer, 18 August 1985, page 1.

THE OBSERVER has obtained concrete evidence for the first time of the way the security service, MI5, secretly controls the hiring and firing of BBC staff. Until now the BBC has always consistently denied any interference, on MI5 instructions.

Senior executives in the corporation have revealed to us a series of cases in which the careers of journalists, directors and broadcasters have been affected by MI5 blacklisting. [Continued]

Zircon and the UK Secret Society: Alistair Milne, ex BBC Director General, on how he was sacked for acting in the public interest.

The most important and controversial matter in the autumn of 1986 was the series of documentaries called Secret Society. I do not think there remains much dispute about their genesis. They were offered to the Controller of BBC-2 by BBC Scotland as a result of conversations between a producer in Glasgow and the journalist Duncan Campbell, after another programme in which Campbell had taken part. Campbell, well-known as a thorough investigative journalist much of whose work was published in the New Statesman, wanted to try his hand at television.

The offer, six thirty-minute investigative films by Duncan Campbell (i.e. researched an presented by him, but produced within normal BBC practice) 'each illuminating a hidden truth of major public concern', was accepted by Graeme McDonald, the Controller of BBC-2 on the 12th of June. [Continued]

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