Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

At a glance: BBC Trust report

The BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee has published the findings of its investigation into the crude calls made on Russell Brand's radio show on 18 October.

Here are the main points from their report.


Warning: This document contains strong language.

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• Prior to the recording of the Russell Brand show on 18 October, Andrew Sachs had agreed to appear on the show, but had not agreed to discuss his granddaughter. Furthermore, Brand did not signal any intention to mention Ms Baillie during a programme production meeting.

• Once Jonathan Ross's initial comment, suggesting that Mr Brand had slept with Ms Baillie, had been recorded on Mr Sachs' voicemail, it was "immediately incumbent upon the producer to have stopped the recording". At this stage, "an unacceptable breach of privacy" had already occurred and the incident should have been referred to senior managers.

• The management of Radio 2 failed to ensure that there was a producer within Russell Brand's production company, Vanity Projects, "with sufficient seniority and experience to oversee this challenging programme".

• When Mr Sachs was contacted to discuss the programme, he felt he had not given permission to use the material. However, the producer believed Mr Sachs would allow a "toned down" version of the show to be broadcast, but he had not played back this version to Mr Sachs to gain his informed consent.

• Ms Baillie should also have been contacted to gain consent, but this did not happen. However, the trust concluded that "the material was of such a nature that its broadcast would have been offensive even if consent had been obtained".


• The show's producer referred the first hour of the Russell Brand show to Radio 2's head of compliance, David Barber, on 16 October. He referred his decision to the station's controller, Lesley Douglas, by email on the same day - in line with the policy that use of "the most offensive language" must be signed off by a station controller.

• The email noted that the programme was "very funny" and advises that "I think we should keep it [the offensive material] in and put a 'strong language' warning at the top of the hour". Mr Barber added that Ross apologised for the phone calls and that "Russell's shocked reaction is hilarious".

• Ms Douglas was not in the office that day, but replied with a one-word email - "Yes" - from her Blackberry on 17 October.

• Although Mr Barber's email did not contain a blow-by-blow account of the Brand show, it contained enough information to alert Ms Douglas to the fact that "the material she was being asked to clear contained unacceptable material". The trust said this was a "serious misjudgement" on her behalf.

• The second half of the show was not delivered to the BBC until the day of broadcast and was never heard by anyone within Radio 2. In addition, the programme had not been signed off by an executive producer at Brand's company "as was envisaged by the contract" it had signed with the BBC.

• The trust concluded that "the recording and broadcasting of these remarks was humiliating to Mr Sachs, Ms Baillie and their families and represented an unacceptable and deplorable intrusion into their private lives. No BBC content should ever reveal intimate details about the private lives of individuals without their consent or without editorial justification".

• Furthermore, a "sung apology" on Brand's show the following week "exacerbated the intrusion of privacy and the offence".

• The trust's editorial standards committee concluded there had been "a catastrophic breakdown of editorial and compliance control by the BBC".


• The committee also looked into Russell Brand's appearance on Chris Moyles' Radio 1 breakfast show on 21 October. During the broadcast, the comedian said: "I phoned up Andrew Sachs to apologise for a matter live on radio and Jonathan Ross blurted out an expletive regarding Andrew Sachs's granddaughter who I'd, in inverted commas, recently 'met'."

• Although Mr Moyles had not been aware that the topic would be raised, and quickly moved the conversation onto safer topics, "Ms Baillie's privacy and Mr Sachs's privacy had been breached again".

• Furthermore, the trust said this material should not have been broadcast when children were likely to be listening.


• The trust also considered an edition of Jonathan Ross's BBC One chat show which took place on 2 May 2008 - six months before the incident on Brand's programme. Two complaints had been received concerning the "use of the f-word" by the presenter.

• The first complainant was not upset by the word itself, but objected to its use in a sexual context during a discussion with Gwyneth Paltrow. The second objected to the word altogether, and requested that Ross be taken off the air.

• In both cases, the committee agreed that Ross's language had been "gratuitous, unnecessary and offensive", even though the show's guests had consented to its broadcast.

• The trust reminded BBC staff that "the casual gratuitous use of the most offensive language is not acceptable on the BBC in accordance with the BBC's existing guidelines and practices", adding that "this particularly applies in entertainment programmes".

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