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MPs grill BBC heads over Manuelgate

'A very serious editorial lapse', admits director general

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MPs at a meeting of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee have been giving BBC bosses a bit of a hard time over the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross Manuelgate scandal, the corporation reports.

Auntie chairman Sir Michael Lyons and director general Mark Thompson appeared before an "ongoing inquiry into the commercial operations of the BBC", at which the latter admitted the whole sorry affair represented "a very serious editorial lapse".

Lyons, however, denied the BBC had been slow to respond to the incident, countering an accusation of "lamentable slowness" with: "There was no lack of speed."

He continued: "I refute and reject any allegations there were more actions the trust should have taken. The trust is doing its job of holding the executive to account.

"I don't think we could've got an apology out any earlier. Could that apology have been worded differently? It was clear that it was both an apology to Andrew Sachs and that [the broadcast's] underlying material was unacceptable."

Lyons did, though, admit the Beeb "could have addressed Mr Sach's granddaughter, Georgina Bailey, who was the subject of the crude phone calls, in its initial apology". He also conceded the BBC's head of audio, Tim Davie, "should have been 'on the airwaves' to make a public statement a little earlier".

Davie didn't face the press until Tuesday, 28 October, "two days after the incident on Brand's Radio 2 show came to light - but 10 days after the initial broadcast".

Russell Brand resigned over the outrage, while Jonathan Ross was suspended for 12 weeks without pay. ®

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