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Sacked CTO Linwood planned Deutsche Bank move before BBC axed DMI

Anh Nguyen | May 16, 2014
John Linwood, the former chief technology officer (CTO) who was sacked over the BBC's failed Digital Media Initiative (DMI) project, had been planning to leave the organisation for a job at Deutsche Bank, it has emerged.

John Linwood, the former chief technology officer (CTO) who was sacked over the BBC's failed Digital Media Initiative (DMI) project, had been planning to leave the organisation for a job at Deutsche Bank, it has emerged.

Linwood gave evidence at an employment tribunal in London on Wednesday, where he is claiming unfair dismissal after being sacked by the BBC over the "complete failure" of the £100 million project.

During his evidence, it was revealed that Linwood, who was on £287,000 a year at the BBC, had been planning to leave the corporation for a role at Deutsche Bank before the DMI was cancelled in May 2013.

The BBC claims that as chair of the DMI steering group and the project's sponsor, Linwood was ultimately responsible for the DMI project and its demise.

Scapegoat

However, Linwood argued that he was being made a scapegoat because the project, which was set up in 2008 with the aim of developing new technology for BBC staff to create, share and manage video and audio content and programmes from their desktops, did not play as big a role for him as the BBC claimed.

According to the Guardian, the project took up an average of just five percent of his "working time as CTO", Linwood said, and he said that the BBC had delivered "hundreds of projects successfully" during his four-year tenure.

He also said that he was the "admiral of the fleet", rather than the "captain" of DMI. His comments are supported by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which recently concluded that one of the failings of DMI was that there was no single individual with overall responsibility for delivering it.

Despite this, when the tribunal asked if Dan Webb, technical lead for DMI, was correct when he said that Linwood was the "accountable senior person" for the project, Linwood replied, "Yes".

'Secret' email

At the tribunal, Linwood was asked about an internal email that discussed a "plan B" to DMI that was being proposed after the project came up against more than two years of delays.

The corporation argued that the email indicated that Linwood was trying to hide the technological problems of DMI because information about plan B was said to be on a 'need to know' basis.

Linwood denied that there were ulterior motives behind not sharing the contingency plan details more widely.

"[BBC North chief operating officer] Alice Webb discussed with me that [BBC North in] Salford was very nervous and were there any more delays they would like to have a fallback plan in place," he told the tribunal.

"The steering group was fully aware there was a fallback plan in place but at this stage I didn't want my team...to be aware that we were putting a plan B in place.

 

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