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BBC execs hunted for dirt on Linwood as COO orchestrated campaign to blame CTO

Edward Qualtrough | Aug. 11, 2014
BBC executives agreed to leave John Linwood 'spinning in the wind' and trawled through material intended to unearth as much dirt on the sacked CTO as they could find, a tribunal said as it ruled Linwood was unfairly dismissed by the broadcaster.

BBC lies

The BBC is also slated for suggesting Linwood always gave an over-optimistic message in relation to DMI and presented it as always on the point of delivery, something the tribunal found to be not true.

Linwood contended that he had always reported factually and accurately on the state of DMI at any given moment and had hidden nothing. The tribunal analysed email exchanges with his team, former COO Caroline Thompson and senior stakeholders and the Director General. But the tribunal noted that he was encouraged to 'get on with it' by his line manager Thomson in 2011 and 2012 and also by Director General Mark Thompson, who pushed him to keep going on the Archive database and also the production tools.

"The Tribunal concluded unanimously that Linwood was not hiding whatever problems there were and was factually reporting those matters through the appropriate reporting channels and that it was a matter of common knowledge that there were project delays.

"It was also very clear that Linwood was not standing in the way of the accurate direct reporting of ups and downs from the DMI team to corporate finance and the Project Management Office."

Steering Group failure

While Younge receives harsh criticism for his behind-the-scences dealings with orchestrator Coles, the Chief Creative Officer for Vision was recommended by Linwood to Thompson due to a "desperate need for a senior 'owner' from Vision on the DMI Steering Group to be responsible for the successful deployment of DMI into production".

On May 23, 2012, Younge accepted the role of Vision 'owner' on the Steering Group, but its attendance record sheets show he did not attend a single meeting over the months of his appointment as Vision 'owner' until October when the decision was made to pause all work on the project.

Linwood comes out in a positive light on a number of occasions in the tribunal despite Coles' efforts to discredit him.

In a meeting between Coles and Alice Webb, the BBC North COO said: "John did loads of good things. He values the BBC and what we do and drives delivery.

"He's passionate about the BBC and sorting out problems, e.g. Project Dolby. He's very solutions focused and champions things. He doesn't disrespect people and has delivered, but he either didn't spot the problem with DMI or didn't do enough about it.

"With North, the Olympics, W1 - the business and technology were completely aligned, with DMI they weren't.

"I don't believe the project was set up well and that wasn't John's responsibility from the outset, but fundamental things were missed, delays in delivery, not meeting the requirements and concerns were not raised seriously enough."

 

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