BBC editor in Leicester tried to identify whistleblower, tribunal hears

A BBC editor accused of breaching Covid rules was “angry” and sought to find the whistleblower, a tribunal heard.

The protected disclosure was made in 2021 by the BBC Leicester City reporter Ian Stringer against station editor Kamlesh Purohit.

Mr Stringer has told an employment tribunal this disclosure led to retribution in the form of disciplinary action, which cost him his job.

The BBC denies this and claims Mr Stringer was sacked for misconduct.

Mr Stringer was hired by BBC Leicester in 2008 and sacked in 2022 after an investigation into his social media use revealed he was given free leases on a BMW 5 series and an Audi A3 from the Leicester-based car firm Total Motion during a period of about three years.

Mr Stringer maintains the cars were leased to him without contingencies or any suggestion of a quid pro quo.

The BBC has told the hearing the cars should have been disclosed as a personal interest.

‘Felt undermined’

Giving evidence at the tribunal in Leicester, Jonathan Lampon, who was acting assistant editor at the station at the time, spoke about the protected disclosure, in which it emerged a staff member was asked to come into the office despite being pinged by the Covid app.

He said Mr Purohit had been angry about the disclosure, had felt undermined and had sought to find out who was behind it.

He said Mr Stringer was one of the people Mr Purohit suspected.

Under the BBC’s whistleblowing policy, any effort to uncover the identity of the person making the disclosure without their permission is classed as a policy breach.

Mr Lampon told the tribunal he was not aware of that rule at the time and had not reported Mr Purohit for trying to establish the identity of the whistleblower.

Mr Lampon said concerns about Mr Stringer’s social media use were not raised by Mr Purohit but by the acting news editor. He said two of Mr Stringer’s sports colleagues raised concerns about his Audi A3 lease arrangement.

Leicester Employment Tribunal building

The employment tribunal heard Mr Stringer was given impartiality training in 2013 and an anti-bribery course in 2020 (BBC)

He added that he, rather than Mr Purohit, was the one who raised Mr Stringer’s social media use with Tim Burke, a senior BBC editor who carried out the investigation.

Roy Magara, for Mr Stringer, told the tribunal Mr Lampon was not “neutral” and claimed that once Mr Stringer had made a protected disclosure Mr Lampon was “used as cover” by Mr Purohit to get Mr Stringer dismissed.

Mr Magara showed Mr Lampon six social media posts made by Mr Purohit, who had BBC in his handle, which used swear words and made political comment.

Mr Lampon agreed all were “editorially dicey” and confirmed he had not referred any of the posts for investigation by more senior BBC figures because Mr Purohit was his superior.

The three-member tribunal bench adjourned the case for deliberations, expected to take place in May, before returning its written judgement.

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