Sunday, December 20, 2015

How the BBC misled the public about its Sports Personality of the Year shortlist

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 shortlist was released on 30th November, with this video explaining how the contenders were chosen. You'll see some members of the Panel talk about their experiences:

Dame Mary Peters: That was hard work - it was so difficult to shortlist down because there was so much, so much talent and there were so many to chose from. But I think we got it right in the end.

Jermaine Jenas: It was the first time I've been involved in it, and it was nice to see how the process happens and how in-depth and how much thought goes into it ....

Although the Panel meeting and those interviews took place on Wednesday 18th November, the BBC's shortlist was not actually published until Monday 30th November 2015.

Hazel Irvine on 18th November 2015

Following publication of the shortlist the wording on some BBC web pages was amended to include the following "[Note: On 30 November 2015, the Panel decided to expand the shortlist from 10 to 12 sportspeople]."

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall, was asked about the controversial shortlist when he appeared before a Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday 16th December. (video excerpt)

According to Lord Hall, the SPOTY Panel drew up the shortlist and then added two names "after the remarkable weekend" of the Davis Cup and the Tyson Fury victory. When questioned further, he said "the Panel added those two names, the BBC did not." Hall reiterated his position with "Let me assure you that those two names were a decision made by the entire panel." When pressed, and asked about a report in the Belfast Telegraph, he stated that the Belfast Telegraph report was wrong.

Tony Hall: "The Panel decided - and I wasn't present in the Panel discussions - to name him [Tyson Fury] for his extraordinary achievement .. he's been put on that list because of his sporting prowess ."

Since the start of this month Newsround Blog has made its own separate investigation into the circumstances behind the addition of Tyson Fury and Andy Murray.

Contrary to the Note on this web page, there was no Panel meeting on 30th November 2015, or indeed any other meeting of the Panel subsequent to the one on 18th November 2015.

So did Lord Hall set out to consciously mislead the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, or was it simply that he wasn't in possession of the full facts? Unfortunately Tony Hall has form when it comes to telling untruths to Parliament, as is clear from what happened two years ago.

Another serious problem with BBC's Director-General is that, when it comes to diversity, he never seems to show any interest in LGBT equality.

Newsround Blog has been unable to track down any speech by Tony Hall in which he seeks to promote, or even mentions, LGBT inclusion. In contrast he's put considerable effort into helping out black, ethnic minority and disabled people. One of the BBC SPOTY panelists, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, also participates in an Independent Diversity Action Group, chaired by Lord Hall, himself.

The Director-General made clear the importance he gives to free speech. He told the Committee that the BBC "should be a place where people's views can be heard across a range of opinion in all things." However, Andy West, telling the world that he was "ashamed to work for the BBC when it lacks bravery to admit it is making a mistake," soon resulted in him being silenced, silenced and told that he'd be suspended pending an investigation.

Well, Lord Hall, it turns out that you - not Andy West - are the person who, with your falsehoods, has brought discredit upon our national broadcaster. The BBC's plight will be much worse in the event of a Tyson Fury win. But whatever the outcome tonight, Andy West should receive an apology, and be reinstated without further delay.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lord Tony Hall answers questions from John Nicolson MP on Wednesday 16th December 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It now seems certain that Tyson Fury will not be removed from the shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year. BBC Complaints replied to an enquiry on Saturday 12th December:-
Your complaint has been passed to us by Barbara Slater for us to respond. This is because it should be handled in accordance with the BBC Complaints procedure as defined in the BBC Trust Complaints framework (

We acknowledge your views on the shortlisting of boxer Tyson Fury for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 in light of comments reportedly made in a recent newspaper interview.

To explain, an independent expert panel decided on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015. You can find full details of the panel on our website at The winner will be decided by a public vote during the live programme which will be broadcast on Sunday 20th December.

Whilst we appreciate that you feel he should not have been shortlisted, the panel included Tyson Fury on the 2015 shortlist on the basis of his sporting achievements, as he became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. The inclusion of sportspeople on the shortlist does not constitute an endorsement by the BBC of any personally-held views.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us. Please be assured that your views have been registered, and we’ll also make sure all feedback is passed on to the BBC Sports Personality team for their information

My response to Ms Slater on Sunday 13th December:-
a) I am not clear whether or not the Panel were aware of the controversy surrounding comments made by Tyson Fury.

b) The BBC has not denied the veracity of the Belfast Telegraph report, so I assume that his name was indeed added without any deliberations, contrary to the claim by Hazel Irvine that there was a well-agreed consensus.

c) The BBC has now argued in its defence that Tyson Fury was shortlisted "on the basis of his sporting achievements." However according to this SPOTY web page, consideration should be given to the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

d) Your inclusion of Tyson Fury on the shortlist diminishes the status of the Title. Recently, BBC children's TV has only reported on the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, and has steered clear of news about the main award and its negative associations.

It appears the BBC broke its own rules by shortlisting Tyson Fury. Therefore Belfast journalist Andy West was fully justified in making clear he was ashamed to work for the Corporation. He should be reinstated immediately, and receive an apology for the egregious way he has been treated.

I do not vote in competitions, and don't intend to make an exception merely in the hope that someone other than Tyson Fury will win. To be frank, I believe - and suspect you appreciate - that a win for Mr Fury will be a huge embarrassment for the BBC.

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall is due to appear before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee tomorrow afternoon, and it's possible he'll be asked more questions about the SPOTY shortlist.

It seems there's a climate of fear at the BBC, exacerbated by the suspension of Andy West. To date BBC journalists appear reluctant to even report news about the treatment of their colleague.

Happier times: Andy reports on the outcome of the gay marriage referendum in Ireland

Andy's mum told MK News that she's proud of him for standing his ground. She said that he's feeling quite stressed and doesn't want to lose his job. BBC Pride has yet to issue a statement.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 takes place in Belfast on Sunday 20th December. Hazel Irvine has provided this helpful video guide explaining how the contenders were shortlisted. Ms Irvine says that being crowned Sports Personality of the Year is potentially the pinnacle of a British sportsman or woman's career.

Hazel Irvine: Not only does it affirm and underline your achievements, it also embeds you, if you like, in the public consciousness.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson tells viewers about the diverse sporting backgrounds of the SPOTY selection panel.

Dame Mary Peters: It's been an amazing year and there's been a really strong list of contenders ...

And after the Panel's deliberations --

Dame Mary Peters: .... that was hard work. It was so difficult to shortlist down because there was so much, so much talent, and there were so many to choose from. But I think we got it right in the end.

Jermaine Jenas: It's the first time I've been involved in it, and it was nice to see how the process happens and how in-depth and how much thought goes into these people being nominated ...

Hazel Irvine: Well the panel has met, and there's been a lot of lively discussion about who should, and perhaps should not be on that list. But I think we've come to a consensus - a well agreed consensus ...

About a week later it emerged that there had, in fact, been no discussion of the inclusion of Andy Murray and Tyson Fury on the shortlist. Ms Irvine should have made that clear in her explanation, especially in view of these Terms and conditions which required the Panel to take account of the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

Many fair-minded people do not think that someone who repeatedly makes homophobic and sexist comments, and who suggested he would murder his sister if she was promiscuous, is the sort of person who deserves to be on the shortlist for an award to embed their 'personality' in the public consciousness.

If the BBC does not remove Tyson Fury from its list of contenders they will be making the biggest mistake since they asked the public to have their say on whether homosexuals should face execution. And now they have the temerity to suspend a member of staff, Andy West, for feeling aggrieved at the way the BBC still treats the concerns of its gay staff and journalists.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Next Step being nominated for a BAFTA award, and the shortlist for a BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 award, probably says more about the awarding organisations than it does about the award winners themselves.