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  • Writer's pictureSundeep Bhatia


The BBC is currently engulfed in scandal.The Lord Mcalpine debacle has cast an eye over the fact that basic journalistic principles were not followed.

There is now talk of the BBC taking disciplinary action against those involved in the preparation of the offending editions of Newsnight.

It is easy to explain in broad terms what the next steps of the procedure will be.

Firstly there will need to be a robust investigation as to what exactly went wrong.This would include speaking to all those involved.The investigation,in an organisation the size of the BBC, will be conducted by someone, or some persons,within the BBC who played no part in the programme and who have nothing to do with Newsnight.

Once the BBC have completed their investigation they will need to decide whether any of the staff involved in the programme should face a formal disciplinary hearing on the grounds of either their capability or conduct.(or both).

Their is an important distinction between the two..

Whilst the meetings would be held in the same way the end objectives would be very different.

A capability procedure would aim to identify shortcomings in performance and,if they are identified,would consider the seriousness of those shortcomings and whether they are such that they can be addressed by means of training and/or additional supervision.


The aim of a conduct procedure is to identify if misconduct exists and,if so,how serious it is.

Following both procedures ,if misconducts or shortcomings are identified then one of four things can happen.

If no shortcomings are found then no further action would be taken.

If shortcomings in capability or behaviour were found then one of three actions could be taken.

The first of these is a formal written warning that would remain on the offending employees file for a specified period of time.

For more serious performance shortcomings or misbehaviour a final written warning could be given that would stay on the record of the offending employee for a specified period of time.

For the most serious shortcomings or for the worst cases of misconduct(gross misconduct) the end result could be immediate dismissal without notice.

Whatever the eventual findings all employees implicated and facing a disciplinary hearing would have the ability to appeal the initial finding and sanction imposed.

The matter would then be heard a short time later. by someone unconnected with the original disciplinary meeting.

All businesses,whether large or small,should have formal written disciplinary procedures in place . The price for not having or following such procedures can be very steep. If an employer acts like Alan Sugar and fires employees then they are likely to find themselves defending an action for unfair dismissal at the local employment tribunal. The result of a finding of unfair dismissal could result in an award of damages of up to around £80000. Drafting a disciplinary process is not a difficult or costly thing to do. At Beaumonde Law Practice we can draft a disciplinary procedure that is tailored to the size and administrative resources of a business. Such a disciplinary procedure is the best insurance policy a business can have against a finding of unfair dismissal.

Written by Sundeep Bhatia Beaumonde Law Practice Evans House 107 Marsh Road Pinner Middlesex HA5 5PA 02088681614 M 07803727534

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