BBC boss acknowledges ‘some antisemitic behaviour’ at corporation

Former director of television Danny Cohen criticised the BBC for a ‘significant management failure on racism’


BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

BBC boss Tim Davie has acknowledged that the corporation has had a problem with “some antisemitic behaviour” – but Jewish staff are unsure the admission will make any difference.

In an email sent to all staff on Friday, Director General Davie wrote: “As an organisation, we must stand united against any form of abuse, prejudice or intolerance.

"As many of you may have seen, sadly in recent weeks we have been alerted to some antisemitic behaviour by people who worked with us.”

Davie was alluding to Dawn Queva, a former BBC programmer and scheduler who spouted vile antisemitism on social media, and Apprentice contestant Asif Munaf, who called Zionism a “godless, satanic cult”. Both Queva and Munaf were dropped by the BBC.

Davie added: “I want to be clear that there can be no place at the BBC for racist abuse of any kind, whether towards our Jewish colleagues or indeed colleagues from any background or belief.

"Any form of antisemitism, Islamophobia or racist abuse is abhorrent, and we will always act whenever it occurs. We must play our role to build understanding and tolerance.

“When we come to work at the BBC, each of us brings our different experiences, beliefs and perspectives. This is our strength, and that diversity of views is critical to a creative organisation that serves the public. Together, we have an incredibly powerful opportunity and role to help bring people together at a time of polarisation and division.”

Davie went to say he was “listening” to staff concerns and encouraged the use of the corporation’s whistleblowing services. Davie said: “We will continue to talk to a range of groups across the organisation as part of our shared commitment to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of background or belief.”

Danny Cohen, former Director of BBC Television said: "The Director General has at last acknowledged that the BBC has a problem with antisemitism. The evidence is irrefutable.

"It has taken months too long for this acknowledgement to happen. It's a significant management failure on racism which has had a damaging and distressing impact on British Jews. I'm sure that the Jewish community won't find much comfort in this email. Actions are what matter."

An anonymous Jewish employee at the cooperation said: “I’ll believe it when I see it. Heard him say the same stuff before but still the same behaviour and attitudes are being tolerated and explained away. Of course it’s good to see this in writing from Tim but it actually makes me want to cry that it’s just in writing and not in practice.”

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