Tony Blackburn – why BBC sacking was wrong

The BBC review does not seem to justify the sacking of Tony Blackburn.  The report’s consideration of the issue of whether or not Tony Blackburn was spoken to in the course of an investigation in 1971 into allegations by a Mrs McAlpine, that her 15 year old daughter had been seduced by Blackburn, are straightforward:

(1) an internal memo copied to Head of Light Entertainment Group, Television (Mr Cotton) says “….I therefore suggest that you [Mr Preston] see Tony Blackburn and ask him for his comments on Mrs McAlpine’s allegation. Assuming that the comments comprise a flat denial, Mrs McAlpine could be so told…”

2) Mr Preston person reported that Tony Blackburn had been interviewed by Mr Cotton and had flatly denied what had been alleged.  No note was taken of this interview.

3) The 1971 investigation report included a statement that “Tony Blackburn told me that the girl had come to see him on several occasions and had invented stories for the purpose of getting access to him. He said she seemed to him in a sort of fantasy world but that she had not made any sexual advances of any kind.”  No evidence was retained in respect of this investigation report or any interview with Tony Blackburn.

The review’s author, Dame Janet Smith, concludes that an interview that Tony Blackburn was wrong when he stated that he was not interviewed in respect of the allegations of Mrs McAlpine.  The report notes that the records are at variance with Blackburn’s statements that he had not been interviewed and that he had not met the 15 year old.

The report does not reach any conclusion that Blackburn was being uncooperative or less than truthful.  The report does not conclude what the ‘interview’ comprised. (Presumably it could have lasted 30 seconds and no more than one or two questions).  Blackburn says he does not recall any interview 45 years ago.  One does wonder on what basis and why Tony Hall should reach such a conclusion that Blackburn is being less than truthful.  The report does not.

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