Now Laurence Reed IS in trouble – BBC forced to apologise on air to Cormac

You’ve got Laurence in trouble again – BBC complaints rule it’s not so much Laurence that’s the problem, it you lot.


Cornwall Council and CORMAC, the company owned by Cornwall Council which maintains Cornwall’s roads, welcome an apology broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall today (16 January 2018) after a complaint was made by Cornwall Council about a Laurence Reed programme from May 2016.

The complaint made to the BBC arose after a number of false and damaging statements were made during the live broadcast which the Council believed were detrimental to the reputations of Cornwall Council and CORMAC, to the people that work for these organisations and to Cornwall itself.

In the apology the BBC acknowledges that the BBC’s failure to give CORMAC and the Council an opportunity to respond during a phone in programme breached BBC editorial standards. It also had to apologise for how long it’s taken to apologise.

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Laurence Reed, Radio Cornwall, 10 May 2016: Finding by the Executive Complaints Unit

Cormac and the Council complained of a number of comments in the course of the phone-in which they said were factually inaccurate and unfair to them and should not have been broadcast. In particular, they objected to comments which suggested that CORMAC had benefited from insider trading in the award of contracts; that CORMAC had profited by making additional visits to the site of road repairs which could have been completed at the first visit; and that the Board of CORMAC included a disproportionate number of former Councillors. They also complained that the presenter, Laurence Reed, had not maintained due impartiality.

In the view of the Executive Complaints Unit, Laurence Reed had not expressed an opinion on any controversial matter (and so had not exceeded the bounds of due impartiality), while the comments the complainants objected to were not made in terms, or in a context, which would have led listeners to take them as statements of fact. However, they did amount to the kind of criticism to which Cormac and the Council should have had a timely opportunity to respond, and it was unfair to them that such an opportunity was not provided.
Partly upheld

Further action
It was agreed that Laurence Reed would broadcast an apology to the complainants in his programme of 16 January, including an apology on behalf of the BBC for the lengthy delay in resolving the complaint, in the following terms:

BBC apology  

In May 2016 we broadcast a phone-in about CORMAC, the company owned by Cornwall Council which maintains Cornwall’s roads.  The phone-in included a number of comments which CORMAC and the Council regard as factually inaccurate and unfair to them.  Although we believe it was justifiable to broadcast them, they amounted to the kind of criticism which CORMAC and the Council should have had a timely opportunity to respond to. We acknowledge that we should have given CORMAC and the Council such an opportunity, and that our failure to do so breached BBC editorial standards. Radio Cornwall would like to apologise for the unfairness to them which this caused, and the BBC would like to apologise for the lengthy delay in resolving their complaint.

The complaint summary is published on the BBC website.

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Cornwall Council and CORMAC welcome the apology and the BBC’s acknowledgement of its lapse in editorial standards but remain disappointed that the inaccurate statements clearly made on air will not be corrected.

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