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BBC Trust brands Manuelgate a 'deplorable intrusion'

No sack for Ross, though

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The BBC Trust has branded the Brand/Ross Manuelgate outrage a "deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification".

On 18 October, Radio 2 broadcast a show featuring hilarious duo Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross in which they rang thesp Andrew Sachs and left messages on his ansafone which crowed that Brand had slept with the Fawlty Towers actor's granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

Cue listener and tabloid outrage, as Middle England bayed for blood and the BBC ran around like a headless chicken before issuing a rather belated apology.

According to a sober Beeb report into the Trust's final judgement, chairman Sir Michael Lyons summarised that whole whole sorry affair could have been avoided "if BBC management had followed the corporation's editorial guidelines".

BBC trustee Richard Tait highlighted the three main epic fail weak spots as: in exercising editorial control; in following established compliance systems; and a failure of judgment in taking editorial decisions.

He said: "It was a very offensive programme which should never have been recorded. Once the offensive phone call was made, the recording should have stopped and senior management alerted. It is a catalogue of editorial and management failures."

As history now records, Russell Brand resigned over the incident, while Jonathan Ross was suspended without pay for 12 weeks. When pressed as to whether "further action" (= the sack) would be taken against Jonathan Ross, Lyons said: "It is not the job of the trust to make decisions about the terms and conditions of performers or the sanctions that are applied to them. We are very clear that the director general has taken the right action with respect to Jonathan Ross."

The BBC declared in a statement it was "determined to act on the lessons learnt from this incident".

Andrew Sachs' wife Melody sighed: "Andrew has got nothing to say. I don't suppose he wants to do anything more about it. We are so tired of all this stuff. Whatever they do, they do, but we are so tired of it all."

And finally, Georgina Baillie - the beleathered temptress whose brief dalliance with Russell Brand was the catalyst for Manuelgate - described herself as "happy" with the Trust's conclusions. She insisted: "It is now time to draw a line under the matter and move on."

The BBC's report into the Trust's findings also contains the latter's analysis of a May edition of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, in which Wossie apparently told Gwyneth Paltrow he'd like to shag her, or words to that effect. Those of you not thoroughly sick of Jonathan Ross, Manuelgate and the BBC's excessive hand-wringing can get further details here. ®

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