Victoria Derbyshire hits back as BBC boss praises ‘original journalism’

Presenter Victoria Derbyshire leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London, after it was announced that her TV programme is being
Presenter Victoria Derbyshire leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London, after it was announced that her TV programme is being taken off air.

Victoria Derbyshire has hit back at a BBC boss who hailed the corporation for its original journalism after her own programme was axed.

The presenter told BBC News’ editorial director Kamal Ahmed to “reconsider the decision to close our programme then” after he tweeted his praise for a Newsnight investigation.

He had shared a post about a probe by the flagship current affairs programme that had resulted in the Government announcing measures to ban putting children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation.

Ahmed wrote: “Investigations matter. Original journalism matters.”

Derbyshire, 51, discovered that her show was being axed as part of a string of cuts when it was reported in a newspaper before the official announcement was made last month.

She has since made her feelings known about her programme’s cancellation, and has condemned the BBC’s claims that it pulled the show off air because it had failed to grow its live audience.

During a briefing to BBC staff about the cost-reduction cuts two weeks ago, Derbyshire tweeted: “we were NEVER asked to grow the linear Tv audience. Ever. We were asked to grow our digital audience – we did – our digi figures are huge (our successful digital figures appear to be an inconvenience to those making the decisions).”

She added: “Our remit when we were set up: 1. Original journalism 2. Reaching underserved audiences 3. Growing the digital figures We achieved all 3.”

Derbyshire’s show began in 2015 and broadcasts live on BBC Two and the BBC News channel every weekday from 10am.

The programme won a Bafta in 2017 and has been nominated for several awards, including the RTS presenter prize.

Her response to Ahmed came after he apologised to BBC staff for accepting a £12,000 fee to speak at a banking conference last week.

In an email to staff that was shared with the Financial Times, Ahmed – who was previously the BBC’s economics editor – said he had accepted the invitation to speak at the Investing for the Future conference hosted by Aberdeen Standard Investments, and that it was not part of his work with the BBC.

He said he would no longer be accepting the fee for his appearance, which came days after the BBC announced that around 450 jobs would go as a result of the cuts.

Ahmed, who earns £205,000 a year at the BBC, wrote: “As a senior manager, I knew the event would be declared via the usual Declaration of Personal Interests that we publish.

“There has been some comment in the media and on social about the fee and several people have raised it internally.

“I realise now that I did not think things through sufficiently at the time of the booking and, although I did not break any of the BBC’s guidelines on external speaking, it was a mistake to agree a fee.”

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