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Wednesday, 1 August, 2001, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
BBC Wales loses 'race' case
kellaway
Lionel Kellaway said he was unfairly dismissed
A veteran natural history presenter who believed he was dropped from BBC Radio Wales for being English has won his claim for racial discrimination.

Lionel Kelleway, 60, claimed the station did not recommission his long-running series Landmark and terminated his contract because he had an English accent.


Being English is not a bar to working and succeeding at BBC Wales. Excellence and an ability to communicate with our audience are what we seek regardless of peoples origins

BBC Wales statement

The Chichester-born broadcaster, who has lived in Wales since 1974 and studied at the University of Swansea, brought the action at an employment tribunal held in Shrewsbury earlier this year.

A BBC Wales statement responding to the decision, read: " We are disappointed at the decision and are considering an appeal.

"BBC Wales is committed to diversity as demonstrated in a host of key initiatives and appointments.

"Being English is not a bar to working and succeeding at BBC Wales. Excellence and an ability to communicate with our audience are what we seek regardless of peoples origins."

A spokeswoman for the Commission for Racial Equality, which backed his claim, said: "I have spoken to Mr Kelleway and he is delighted with the outcome and grateful for our support.

BBC Wales
BBC Wales wanted a "strong Welsh voice"

"He is looking forward to reading the decision."

A BBC spokesman said the organisation would make known its reaction to the ruling later.

The three-member panel unanimously ruled that the BBC and the then commissioning executive of BBC Radio Wales, Daniel Jones, had discriminated against the applicant on the grounds of his national origins, contrary to the 1976 Race Relations Act.

'Strong Welsh voice'

At the heart of Mr Kellaway's claim was a commissioning brief made by Mr Jones for a "strong Welsh voice" in environmental programmes.

Former gamekeeper Mr Kelleway, of White Mill, Carmarthenshire, said he took the comment to mean someone with a Welsh accent.

Mr Jones, 43, of Whitchurch, Cardiff, denied the allegation and said the decision not to continue with the programme for 2000-01 was because it had become "tired and out of touch" with the station's target audience and had no new ideas.

He also wanted to reverse declining audience figures and broaden the station's appeal to the whole of Wales.

Award-winning

The award-winning Landmark programme, which Mr Kelleway presented for about 10 years, had its number of programmes reduced in 1999-2000, then was dropped altogether the following year.

The tribunal panel said: "We concluded from evidence about Mr Jones's desire for more Welsh accents on the station that, whilst it was not the only reason, one significant reason the second respondent Jones no longer wished to see the applicant presenting the programmes in the landscape genre on Radio Wales was that he did not have an identifiably Welsh-sounding voice."

They continued: "We can say that we are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that racial grounds, that is to say the applicant's national origins, had a significant influence on the decision not to commission him to present further programmes after March 2000."

The panel, which had reserved its decision, said it had yet to fix a date for a remedy hearing to decide what compensation Mr Kelleway should receive.

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