Following the extraordinary sacking of BBC Cymru Radio Wales (RW) presenter Carol Vorderman for breaching social media guidelines on impartiality, key questions remain for listeners.
These include: 1. WHY did it not happen sooner? And 2. WHAT is being done about those who constantly flout the rules on neutrality, yet remain at the BBC?
One audience member told The Eye: “This is not before time. Vorderman has been slagging off the Tories, and boosting Labour for years”.
Another declared: “It’s all very well to get rid of one, but what about all the other ones?!”.
Issues about the impartiality policy at the BBC appear to be particularly pertinent today after the huge controversy over its refusal to call the group which murdered 1400 Israeli civilians (Hamas) terrorists, despite the fact this is the official designation of the US Government (see story soon).
On October 8 1997 the US Department of State listed Hamas as terrorists along with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as well as Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), and Tory MPs are furious this terminology was not used.
Apparently endorsing the first comment, Ms Vorderman had proclaimed earlier on social media that a low figure for the number of Conservative MPs was a “target” for Labour, declaring there should be tactical voting to stop them, and condemned a Tory MP at the centre of a rape allegation.
Before she was sacked, Ms Vorderman had hosted a programme for BBC Radio Wales (RW) on Saturdays. Still employed by the corporation, she had shown a map covered in red after recent by-elections, saying: “NOT a prediction BUT if the Tamworth swing to Labour happened in a General Election Tories would lose 347 seats and end up with just 29 MPs Now that is what I call a target (thumbs up emoji) But I honestly believe with Tactical Voting Stopthetories.vote we can reduce them to 70 MPs (strong arm emoji)“.
Yet after the Gary Lineker affair the rules on neutralality and behaviour at the BBC were supposedly toughened up, so it seems reasonable to assume there might have been IMMEDIATE disciplinary action for Ms Vorderman. Following an extensive review, officials created an unbiasedness and behaviour category for Mr Lineker, as well as for other freelance presenters who work on the corporation’s ‘flagship programmes’.
For presenters like Ms Vorderman the rules were more relaxed, but even here these people were meant to have their ability to share views severely restricted while the BBC programme was on air. They were also told to stay quiet on party politics for a two-week period before and after the series has been broadcast.
The direction of travel was obvious, and even on a trip to Cardiff several years ago, the BBC Director General (DG), Tim Davie, said he would be prepared to fire presenters who broke guidelines. He has also proclaimed: “Our research shows that too many perceive us to be shaped by a particular perspective”, and stated that he wanted to stop presenters being “partisan campaigners on social media”.
But Ms Vorderman has hit the headlines with her anti-Conservative views many times in the past, as the RW listener has pointed out.
Earlier this year, she accused the UK Government of being “a lying bunch of greedy, corrupt, destructive, hateful, divisive, gaslighting crooks”. She also used Twitter (now X) to call Conservative MP Johnny Mercer and his wife “petulant” and “childish”.
But apart from saying he would be willing to sack presenters who broke the rules on impartiality, Mr Davie also proclaimed in Cardiff soon after his appointment: “If you want to be an opinionated columnist or partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC”. BBC rules underline this, and announce that staff should avoid, too, using disclaimers such as ‘My views, not the BBC’s’ in their biographies and profiles, as they provide no defence against personal expressions of opinion.
Underneath a UK newspaper report about the outburst against the Tories earlier this year, comments were highly critical of Ms Vorderman, and the BBC’s policy on neutrality. One said: “Over a period of time I saw regular tweets from her (Carol Vorderman) which seemed very structured in therms (terms) of the repetition and targets. I repeatedly asked on her timeline if she wrote all her won (own) tweets or were they labour sponsored/written. She never responded”.
Unfortunately, these public comments fell into a familiar pattern for Ms Vorderman.
In the past she has proclaimed on Twitter (now X) “The Tory party is morally corrupt”. In her tweet, she attached a Mirror story with photograph, which stated: “Shameless Boris Johnson living in a £20m home for free…”. She has also written: “PARTYGATE TURNS TO RENTGATE Boris Johnson living in donor’s £20m home The Tory party is morally corrupt. Lies, violation of our NHS, protection of the rich, don’t forget the Michelle Mone PPE-Scandal. 2 years from now will they have destroyed all we have?”. Ms Vorderman has also tweeted about Mr Johnson that he: “Even lies in his final speech as Prime Minister who has brought this country to its knees. Boris Johnson has had many relationships through his life…. but sadly for us, he’s never had a relationship with the truth”.
She has long been outspoken on social media, and her anti-Conservative views incurred the wrath of a commentator on a right-of-centre television station. Ms Vorderman has tweeted out another Mirror story which began: “Firm ‘profiteering from misery’ by providing migrant barges donated £70,000 to UKIP…”.
Just this month she has commented on a live inquiry involving a Conservative MP, and as Ms Vorerman put it, “…offences including multiple rapes.”
Her post on Facebook (FB) began: “ANOTHER Tory MP…”
This followed reports that the party’s former chairman Sir Jake Berry wrote to the police to make them aware of the claims about another MP after leaving the post last year.
Sir Jake told them one alleged victim was receiving support paid for by the party, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Apart from apparently flouting the rules on impartiality, Ms Vorderman could have also fallen foul of guidelines.
It is legally extremely dangerous to comment publicly on a live investigation, and the suspect could be entirely innocent.
On GB News’ ‘ALBIE’S ARGUMENT’ it was stated: “‘Carol Vorderman, we get it, you don’t like the Tories. Instead of sitting on the sidelines moaning, join a political party, stand for election and try to make a difference.’”.
Her messages have also disconcerted colleagues at the BBC, and several who used to work there. A former senior executive at the organisation proclaimed that: “Her (Ms Vorderman’s) comments raise serious questions about the impartiality of celebrity presenters on the BBC. This is clearly politically motivated”. One-time RW presenter Mike Flynn told The Eye: “What she said was completely unacceptable”.
A Tory MP called for the BBC to investigate her social media posts: “She makes Gary Lineker’s comments look quite mild”.
However Welsh-born Ms Vorderman is no stranger to controversial headlines (and many more have now followed her sacking), although she seems to be downcast about some of the coverage.
She has complained that people focus too much on her “big bottom”, without recognising her other attributes.
In fact Mrs Vorderman appears to be unhappy with the mainstream media generally, and has described how she was left ‘in tears’ and spoke of “harassment” when she spotted two photographers, one in front of her on the pavement and the other on the opposite side of the road before she drove from her house in Bristol to do the regular programme on RW. Ms Vorderman stated in a video she shared: “This is what happens when you walk outside your home… This is what I call harassment”, and was supposedly “frightened” by the incident. Yet the pictures these photographers tried to take, came after she had herself shared on Twitter/X two images of herself posing in skimpy “home gym gear” to show how young she looks.
Ms Vorderman has also liked to publicise owning another home when the subject is extremely fraught. Hello magazine proclaimed: “Former Countdown star Carol Vorderman usually resides at her home in Bristol, but she also owns a second property in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The latter is where the star is currently staying, and by day she appears to be enjoying paddleboarding and sun-soaked activities but by night this is where she relaxes”.
However the whole concept of second homes in Wales is enormously controversial because it drives up property prices for local people, and incomers are often unaware of the indigenous Welsh language in tourist areas.
Political parties and the media, have also highlighted the huge problem it creates in Wales. The issue has been described as a “crisis” in UK newspaper The i, and as a “gross injustice” in The Guardian.
A Swansea University (SU) report for the Welsh Government (WG), analysed, as well, this enormous difficulty. It stated: “The phenomenon is limited in its most extreme form to the four coastal counties of west Wales (Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Anglesey). Although there are smaller areas in other counties (such as the Gower Peninsula in Swansea) which also have a high concentration of second homes, these too tend to be in parts of Wales frequented for holiday and leisure purposes”. The academic investigation was featured in the Western Mail (WM) with a report on it saying: ‘Increasing taxes on second homes is just one recommendation put forward in a new report commissioned by the Welsh Government to look at a so-called “second homes crisis” in Wales’.
As well as the glowing ‘story’ in Hello (before the present situation was reported), a MailOnline story emerged about Ms Vorderman, which said that she had “incredible curves”and “incredibly smooth complexion” with her age prominently displayed. These words, set alongside the age (she is now 62), are usually reserved for someone who has had extensive plastic surgery.
Even so, Ms Vorderman claims to be unhappy about the reports of her appearance, and has stated to newspapers: “One of the sad things is that people think I am only ever talking about the way I look. I just choose to pay no attention to it. I was a free school meals kid. I got to Cambridge from a comprehensive. That just didn’t happen in the 70s. Now I do a lot of work with kids from a similar background to me. I have my online maths school, I sell I-don’t-know-how-many education books a year. But that never gets talked about. Instead it’s,`how big is her bottom?’”
But the articles about Ms Vorderman and her sacking, come amid growing concern that she has regularly grabbed the headlines in the UK for alarming reasons (and social media has often been at the heart of the revelations), with her exploits even being the subject of a piece by our satirical writer Edwin Phillips.
Only last month, it was reported in both The Sun and Mail that her anti-UK Government tweets had caused ructions.
The Mail reported how: “RAF top brass considered ‘stripping’ Carol Vorderman of her honorary title because of her anti-government tweeting, it has been revealed.
“Voderman, 62, not only a famed Countdown star, is also a proud Air Cadet Ambassador and Honorary Group Captain, as is noted in her X, formerly Twitter, bio.
“But after launching a tirade against top Tory MPs, senior officials debated ‘hanging her out to dry’, The Sun reported.”
Ms Vorderman is originally from Prestatyn, yet intriguingly despite her professed love of Wales, and being pictured in a T-shirt emblazoned with the Welsh flag at a rugby stadium, she chooses to live in England, although she regularly stays at her second home in Pembrokeshire.
It seems also that she is, today, part of a celebrity ‘set’ in Wales. A picture of another personality, completely naked, was sent to her and put as well on social media. The photograph was placed on Twitter by the rugby presenter Jonathan Davies with the caption “Just for you Carol”.
However it appears she has attracted support from other celebrities following her final exit from the airwaves.
The nationalist website Nation.Cymru (NC), which is backed by the taxpayer, has reported: “Celebrities including Alan Carr and Dame Kelly Holmes have expressed “respect” for Carol Vorderman after she announced she was departing her BBC Radio Wales show following the introduction of social media guidelines”
Meanwhile we have shown how Ms Vorderman had said “Diolch Rhydian xx” to another BBC Cymru Wales radio personality Rhydian Bowen Phillips who declared on Twitter that it had been good to see her at Broadcasting House (BH).
The memories of our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry’s, astonishing decades long award-winning career in journalism (which involved sticking to key guidelines on impartiality) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in the important book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
Slide rule again part two is soon – and the BBC make changes to their complaints procedure after a barrage of criticism.
Tomorrow – MORE controversy for the corporation after the latest revelations in the Russell Brand scandal.