Jacob Rees-Mogg discusses removing peerages
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The BBC board will launch a review into the effectiveness of the broadcaster’s editorial policies and governance following Lord Dyson’s report into the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales. The inquiry by the former master of the rolls concluded that journalist Martin Bashir had used “deceitful behaviour” to land the world exclusive and an internal BBC investigation a year later had covered it up. DUP MP Ian Paisley asked the Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg whether there was a “mechanism” that could be used to remove Lord Hall’s title and privileges.
Mr Paisley said: “I’m sure the Leader of the House agrees with me that Lord Hall has very serious questions to answer regarding the reemployment of Mr Martin Bashir at the BBC.
“Can the Leader of the House let me know if there’s any mechanism that can be deployed, or has indeed been examined, that would allow for the removal of Lord Hall’s title and privileges here at this House because of the alleged serious breaches that he has been engaged in?
“Is that action being examined and looked at and is there a process given the serious nature of his misdemeanour?”
Responding, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “There is a procedure for removing peerages for Lords who go to prison for a certain period of time which came in relatively recently, and the House of Lords has exclusive cognisance of its own affairs and it can, of course, suspend peers under certain circumstances.”
He later added: “There are mechanisms but they are at the highest end of our constitutional activity for the most serious misdemeanours.
“Whether it would be right to go into them in a specific circumstance is a matter I can’t go into at the despatch box.”
In a statement, the BBC board admitted the failings set out in the 127-page document and said it hoped to ensure the “mistakes of the past” were not repeated.
It said: “We accepted Lord Dyson’s findings in full and reiterate the apology we have offered to all those affected by the failings identified.
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“We recognise the impact that the events it describes has had on so many people, not least those whose lives were personally affected by what happened.
“We also acknowledge that audiences had a right to expect better from the BBC.”
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee also announced it will hold a session, expected to be in June, to examine questions raised by the report
Committee chairman Julian Knight said: “We believe the BBC has further questions to answer following last week’s report by Lord Dyson and further speculation in the media over the weekend, including views expressed by Martin Bashir himself.
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“We want to speak to those who were involved at the time and in the years that followed the screening of this programme, which continues to create headlines more than 25 years on.
“Scrutiny of the BBC has never come at a more critical time for the broadcaster and we will play our part in this in order to examine events and processes, crucial to retaining audiences’ trust in the BBC.”
The BBC board’s review will be undertaken by a group of non-executive board directors, led by Sir Nick Serota, senior independent director of the BBC.
It will be supported by Ian Hargreaves and Sir Robbie Gibb, non-executive members of the corporation’s editorial guidelines and standards committee, and will report to the BBC board in September.
The review will look at oversight of editorial practices and assess the robustness and independence of whistleblowing processes at the broadcaster.
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