MPs grill BBC bosses over phone-in scandal

BBC bosses have been hauled over the coals by MPs as they gave evidence about the TV phone-in scandal.

Deputy director-general Mark Byford and chief operating officer Caroline Thomson were asked to explain how viewers came to be deceived in a string of shows including Children In Need and Comic Relief.

They were accused of ‘fighting a rearguard action’ and of being ‘dangerously out of touch’ with the way BBC programmes are made.

MPs also questioned why licence fee money should be spent putting BBC staff through a training programme telling them ‘not to lie’.

Appearing before the Commons media select committee, Byford described the deceptions as totally unacceptable and said honesty lay at the heart of the relationship between the BBC and its viewers.

He pledged to restore public confidence in the Beeb.

Byford also said he was stunned by the six deceptions revealed last week, a scandal which began when Blue Peter was found to have faked a competition winner.

But he admitted: “We can’t be 100 per cent certain that we have captured everything. Some investigations are still going on. We may well get other cases. I hope obviously that we don’t, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

“I can confirm in no uncertain terms they will be judged to be absolutely grave and in a context where we won’t tolerate it.”

Three senior editorial staff have been suspended, Byford revealed.

But he dodged questions about whether he and director-general Mark Thompson should resign over the furore.

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