S4C under investigation over bullying allegations
The board of S4C has commissioned a legal firm to investigate serious bullying allegations made by members of staff at the Welsh language TV channel.
Rhodri Williams, who chairs the broadcaster, announced the move on the channel’s evening news bulletin on Tuesday.
A letter written to S4C’s non-executive board members last Friday by an official of the broadcasting union Bectu said that at a recent meeting of the union branch, four of its members were in tears as they described their experiences of alleged bullying.
According to the letter, there was a toxic working environment at the channel and a lack of confidence in S4C management, with staff often feeling that they were ignored and belittled, undermined or patronised by members of the management team.
It said staff were often left in tears and were too afraid to raise concerns through the usual complaints process.
According to the letter, there was a meeting between union officials and S4C chief executive Sian Doyle last December.
It said she acknowledged that things had been very difficult and that management were to blame for the way people felt, but that the term “bullying” had been used too readily.
Although union members reported a short period of improvement, the Bectu official suggested that a mechanism needed to be established where individuals had the confidence to discuss their experiences with an independent investigator, who would reach a conclusion on where any blame could be apportioned and make recommendations.
Mr Williams told S4C’s Newyddion programme: “We got the letter on Friday and we set up a meeting of the board later that afternoon.
“I am comfortable that so far we have responded in the appropriate way and with the necessary speed.”
Asked whether the board would be prepared to take the difficult decision to sack staff if evidence of bullying was established, Mr Wiliams said: “I don’t think it is appropriate to speak in those terms at the moment.”
Mr Williams was non-committal as to whether former members of staff would be able to give evidence to the inquiry.
It is understood that around 20 staff members have left since last year.
The investigation will be carried out by Cardiff law firm Capital Law and could take several weeks to complete.
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I didn’t know anyone actually worked on S4C. I thought it did its broadcasting from an old video recorder in a dark and dusty cupboard churning out cartoons all day. What a wasted opportunity this channel is!!
Alarming to read – “The investigation will be carried out by Cardiff law firm Capital Law and could take several weeks to complete.” It seems that bullying is becoming a new gold mine for firms of solicitors specialising in such opaque matters. Its very opacity enables them to spin out their work charging extortionate daily rates. Much of it will turn out to be of the “borrow your watch to tell the time then pocket that watch and walk away” kind of consultancy. There should be a robust management team in place within S4C that is able to ensure fair… Read more »
Think of a figure, double it, multiply by ten and then if that isn’t enough add a few thousand on for good measure. That’s how the law operate. Many years ago my son needed the use of a solicitor and each time he asked how much his bill was the solicitor used to pick the case folder up and weigh it by hand and then give an estinate of the cost so far. In the end we reported his antics to the law society who ordered him to pay back all of the final bill. It was done out of… Read more »
What does your ‘robust management team’do if they find something wrong,get accused of bullying or if they find nothing wrong,get accused of a cover up.No I am afraid an independent inquiry is the only answer.I,myself have a suspicion of solicitors,despite having known plenty of perfectly decent ones,no the answer cannot be do nothing or mob rule.