KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC -The chair of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Trust says he will ensure that a complaint made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves about two BBC journalists “is properly pursued through the BBC complaints process”.
Gonsalves wrote to Lord Chris Patten on Friday to complain about the “rude” and “unprofessional” approach of journalists Matthew Hill and Paul Kenyon when they questioned him aboard an airplane in Barbados on February 17 about an allegation.
They asked Gonsalves to respond to an allegation that investor Daves Ames had gone to his office with a bag of money and left without it.
“It is plainly wrong for Mr. Kenyon to peddle a wholly unfounded allegation against me and in the process sully my good name and that of my office. His allegation is false. Further, the unprofessional manner in which he accosted me is surely improper,” Gonsalves said in the letter to the BBC chair.
He further reiterated that he deserves the same level of respect accorded to any other prime minister in the world.
“I am available to meet with you at any convenient time to discuss this matter further. In the meantime, I place the aforementioned issues into your hands for consideration and action,” Gonsalves said in the letter to the BBC chair.
Patten, in his response on Wednesday, said he was “obviously concerned” about what Gonsalves had to say.
He, however, noted the role of the BBC Trust in handling complaints against the BBC.
“As you may know, the BBC Trust, which I chair, is a sovereign body of the BBC and its principal strategic authority. However, the Trust’s role is distinct from that of the BBC’s management and it has no responsibility for the day-to-day editorial decision or operational matters,” Patten wrote.
“The Trust does have a role in the BBC complaints process, but this is at the final stage, hearing complaints on appeal. I am therefore passing your letter straight away to the Acting Director-General, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the organisation, who will come back to you as soon as possible.”
Patten said that if Gonsalves is “unhappy with the BBC’s initial response to your complaint you can of course escalate your concerns.
“I have asked to be kept informed about what happens,” he further wrote.
At a press conference on Monday, Gonsalves told journalists of his letter to Patten and said he would await a response before saying what he would consider to be satisfactory redress.
“I put all the issues, as I mentioned, in the hands of the BBC Trust for their consideration and any action. I leave it open-ended for them. I will hear from them what has happened and then I will say what I hear from them whether it is satisfactory to me or not. But I am not going to say in advance what is satisfactory to me,” the Prime Minister told reporters.