LONDON – The BBC has postponed airing an episode of its flagship investigative news program Panorama and suspended a member of the production team amid allegations of bribery.
The episode of the BBC’s flagship investigative program, which was due to look into the activities of luxury Caribbean property developer Harlequin, has been suspended after allegations that a security consultant was offered a bribe for information.
Harlequin lodged a complaint last week and the show was suspended.
“In light of information received late in the production process of this film, the BBC decided to postpone broadcast,” said a BBC statement. “We are currently reviewing the facts. As a result a member of the team has been suspended and a disciplinary procedure is under way.”
Reports in The Times and The Guardian said that one of the current affairs program’s producers e-mailed a security consultant at a firm apparently suggesting that in return for confidential information about the company, the BBC might offer him work.
The BBC’s anti-bribery policy states that the public broadcaster has a “zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and is committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all its business dealings and relationships wherever it operates. The BBC is committed to implementing and enforcing effective systems to counter bribery.”
BBC’s Panorama recently made the headlines when BBC director general George Entwistle turned down an interview request by the team investigating the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Entwistle resigned from his post after just 54 days in the job after weeks of negative headlines for the BBC amid the sexual-abuse scandal surrounding Savile and the revelation that another BBC show, Newsnight, late last year dropped a planned report about the allegations against Savile.
In certain media quarters, the BBC’s decision to postpone the Panorama broadcast is seen as a move to ensure a squeaky clean image in light of the recent headlines it has attracted.
Incoming BBC director-general Tony Hall recently attributed a reckless approach to creative risk-taking, which led the BBC into crisis amid the fallout of the Savile sex-abuse scandal in an interview with The Guardian.