Posted on December 1st, 2011 No comments
You may well be away that the BBC has found itself at the centre of a sexism row involving its nominations for Sports Personality of the Year.
All the ten candidates are men and it has been disclosed that for some obscure reason people from “respectable” pornography magazines just as Nuts and Zoo were tasked with picking the nominees.
The BBC has said it will look again at how the process should be managed, but isn’t going to change anything for this year.
So, with that in mind I have decided to right a wrong. I will now announce to a fanfare of applause the FoI News Freedom of Information Officer of the Year Award 2011, otherwise known as the “Poison Chalice” award.
The award, which consists of no cash and no actual prize (so don’t bother to see if it is declared on any gift register) goes to Rachael Ward of the BBC.
“Why her?” I hear you cry. I’m sure she probably will not thank me for this, but it is awarded for displaying courage under fire from superiors. I’ll try to explain more fully.
After a considerable wrangle I eventually wrote a story based upon the fact that the BBC gave a set of Wimbledon men’s final tickets to multi-millionaire Bernie Ecclestone.
Having taken some time to extract this from the Beeb I suspected something might be amiss and sent off the dreaded “meta-request” – a request about a request – or the request of last resort.
When the response came back not only did it give a full account of how the details of Bernie’s tickets were released but also how FoI officer Ward stood firm in front of pressure from her superiors.
Her boss Dominic Coles e-mailed her saying: “Rather than naming Bernie Ecclestone specifically, can we not say two tickets were offered for use by Formula One Management?”
She could have crumbled under the pressure of the six-figure pay packet, but she didn’t. She held on to the principles of FoI, buttressed by the law itself and sent me out Bernie’s name – much to Bernie’s initial annoyance.
The “cover-up that wasn’t” story appeared in the Mail on Sunday. For those of you interested the full BBC disclosure can be seen here. [RFI20111231 ].