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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
BBC editorial leaders suspended
Comic Relief
Comic Relief in March was among the shows which were named
A number of senior BBC editorial staff have been suspended with immediate effect in the wake of revelations about faked phone-in competitions.

A BBC spokeswoman said junior personnel were not involved, but declined to comment on numbers or identities.

Meanwhile, BBC director general Mark Thompson has been given a vote of confidence by the BBC Trust.

Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said he was "the right person to lead change", and was "confident he will do it".

But he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme they would "suspend judgement until we have seen improvement".

'Watching carefully'

Serious editorial breaches were found in six shows, including Comic Relief.

The charity said in a statement that "these broadcast problems will not affect its grant-giving or donations in any way".

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson will take a "zero tolerance" approach to lapses

Sir Michael warned that the Trust, which oversees the BBC's activities and represents licence fee payers, would be "watching very carefully" to ensure the correct sanctions were applied.

"We will come back in a year's time to make sure the BBC is a different place to the one it is today," he said.

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said the admissions posed "serious questions" under its code of conduct and that it would request further information about the cases before taking action.

It added that it would speak to the BBC Trust about wider issues arising from recent findings that there was a "systematic failure" in the way TV channels have run premium rate phone services.

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said discussions were under way to decide whether a formal police investigation would be launched.

"It is probably a bit too early to tell at the moment," he said. "But if we are requested to investigate it we will. I think it needs a bit more time to understand what's going on."

In the House of Commons, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said the government were "strong supporters of the BBC".

"It is of course important they have the trust of all their viewers but... this is not just an issue for the BBC but across all broadcasters," she added.

In response to Conservative MP Andrew Mackay saying people had "lost trust in the BBC", Ms Harman replied: "We know the BBC is acting on this, we support them in their actions."

Two BBC executives have been summoned to explain the affair to MPs on the House of Commons Culture select committee on Tuesday.

Competitions suspended

Mr Thompson has outlined a "zero tolerance" approach to future lapses in editorial judgement.

BBC One's Sports Relief in July 2006, Comic Relief in March 2007, Children In Need on BBC Scotland in November 2005, The Liz Kershaw Show on BBC 6 Music and CBBC programme TMi were all found to have breached editorial standards.

All phone-related competitions on BBC TV and radio ceased from midnight on Wednesday, while interactive and online competitions will be taken down as soon as possible.

Other measures outlined in Mr Thompson's action plan include mandatory training for 16,500 staff.

Mr Thompson has also ordered an independent inquiry into footage that wrongly implied the Queen walked out of a photo session.

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Director general Mark Thompson interview



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