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£100m DMI omnifail: BBC managers' emails trawled by employment tribunal

Chief techie Linwood's unfair dismissal unearths a few gems

Loss of confidence

A two-hour executive board meeting followed on May 13, 2013, where DMI’s future was discussed. Reviewing an on-page summary of the discussion of that event provided by Linwood, the tribunal said it found “no reference whatever” made to the embattled CTO.

Coles, however, apparently decided to “take stock” of that day’s discussions and act.

“It appeared to us, that the executive board had lost confidence in Mr. Linwood’s ability to act as the BBC CTO and continue to run the BBC’s technology division,” was his summary of events that day.

He started working with BBC HR director Richard Burdon on the basis that Linwood “had a case to answer for in relation to DMI”.

Coles’ notes of the board meeting talk of about concern about Linwood's lack of collaboration and the executive board’s loss of confidence. But, according to the tribunal, he was unable to explain why none of the content contained in his own evidence was present in the notes of the meeting.

Coles and Burdon convened a meeting with Linwood on 14 May.

Linwood had no idea what to expect of that meeting but Coles and Burdon did. Burdon, an HR exec of 20 years, admitted during the tribunal that he and Coles hit Linwood “cold”.

Linwood claimed he was given a choice of resigning or going through a disciplinary process and facing dismissal. Coles and Burdon denied this. The tribunal seems to have sided with Linwood.

Importantly, Linwood rejected the attempt to pin the blame for DMI on him, while calling the pair's actions "unfair" as he had not received a written warning.

Next, the Tribunal contended, "potentially negative material about the Claimant from 2011 and 2012" was gathered by Coles and Younge.

However, the tribunal reported: “In the event nothing of any real substance found, considering the claimant had been a senior management positions across many projects across the organisation for four years."

The tribunal reproduced an email written by HR director Lucy Adams on 15 May. Responding to an email about the cancellation of a technology event, Adams wrote it was canned because of “JL” – John Linwood. “They don’t know he’s been fired yet,” the email read.

Later that month, BBC strategy chief James Purnell wrote: “We need a clear line on [John Linwood], whether he is resigning or being fired and why.”

The tribunal said: “It was notable that there was no third option in Purnell’s mind, such as a different disciplinary outcome.”

By 24 May, 2013 it was all over for DMI... and for Linwood. The BBC went public on its cancellation of DMI and said chief techie Linwood had been suspended. ®

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