BBC apologises to family of reporter who killed himself over harassment complaints
The BBC has apologised "unreservedly" to the family of a reporter who is believed to have killed himself, for the way complaints he made about harassment were dealt with.
The broadcaster today admitted some aspects of the handling of complaints made by Russell Joslin, a reporter at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, were "not good enough".
Mr Joslin, 50, died in Warwick Hospital on October 22, 2010 after being hit by a bus three days previously.
After being taken to the hospital, he was admitted to nearby psychiatric unit St Michael's before being readmitted to Warwick as an emergency patient.
A post-mortem examination found Mr Joslin died from asphyxiation.
The journalist's family claim his managers could have given him more help after he made allegations that he was sexually harassed by a female colleague, sparking an investigation.
After an investigation by external consultant Lesley Granger, who worked for the BBC until 2008, the BBC today admitted that a number of factors, including the "workplace culture" at the corporation, made it difficult for Mr Joslin to speak out.
Its statement said: "The BBC acknowledges that aspects of the handling of Russell Joslin's case were not good enough. We have apologised unreservedly to the Joslin family.
"It is clear from the report that a number of factors, including workplace culture, made it more difficult for Russell to raise concerns.
"Disappointingly, the report also refers to behaviour which falls below the high standards we expect of all those who work for the BBC.
"We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the BBC will not tolerate any form of bullying and/or harassment and is committed to providing a workplace in which the dignity of individuals is respected.
"Employees raising a bullying and harassment grievance should be able to do so without fear of victimisation."
It said it would learn lessons from Mr Joslin's death, and is introducing a confidential helpline for staff, run by an independent organisation, as well as reviewing support services for staff.
Sessions are also being held for local radio stations to discuss the BBC's "values and how teams work together", it said. They are expected to start in the next few weeks.
It also said managers might need to take up cases independently - not relying on people to make complaints - and they would get more training on how to recognise bullying and harassment and how to deal with formal and informal complaints.
"We have discussed these actions with the Joslin family and believe that they address the areas which, for Russell, were not good enough.
"Whilst they cannot sadly help Russell, we believe they will make sure that any member of staff who is struggling to cope in the workplace will be better supported in the future."
In a statement Mr Joslin's family said he was let down by the BBC, but praised its "thoroughness" and accepted its findings.
They said: "The BBC clearly let Russell down; they could and should have done more.
"All of their staff regardless of role should be treated equally and have the same standards expected of them.
"Whilst we do not blame any individual and nor should anyone involved in Russell's care do so, tragically it is possible that Russell might still be alive if the BBC system had proactively handled his complaints with more competence, openness and humanity.
"If only the BBC had listened and acted earlier.
"To the BBC's credit however, they have acknowledged their failure and apologised unreservedly.
"This means a great deal to us as a family and we commend their expressed willingness to learn lessons."
They said they were working with the BBC, but said proof of change would come with the implementation of the changes it had promised.
Paying tribute to "excellent old-fashioned journalist" Mr Joslin, they said life without him was "very hard", but added: "The torment he experienced latterly is over and it helps our recovery to know that we, alongside key colleagues, are doing our best to ensure that some good comes from bad.
"We intend to say nothing more until all the facts are brought together at the coroner's inquest."