BBC Whistleblower Claims- National Newspapers- Employment Tribunal Story- ***March 2013***

Former BBC HR manager Byron Myers contacted our publicist Jonathan Hartley after finding himself in the media glare.

Being up against a huge organistaion, Mr Myers wanted advice on how he would be portrayed by the media and to ensure his story was fairly told.

The story of his tribunal appeared in several national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Sun and Daily Mirror.

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BBC threatened me with jail when I blew the whistle to the Mail about manager paying his lover

The BBC threatened one of its own staff with prison when he blew the whistle on suspected fraud to the Daily Mail, a tribunal has heard.

Byron Myers, a former head of human resources, discovered that a BBC manager was signing off lucrative payments to his girlfriend's company, First Positions.

The suspected conspiracy involved payments worth tens of thousands of pounds, it was claimed. Mr Myers said that when he reported his suspicions, in 2011, there was 'a cover-up'.

In 2012, Mr Myers decided to alert the public by taking his evidence to the Daily Mail, which conducted an investigation and published an article.

But the BBC responded by threatening him with 'a prison sentence' for leaking information.

Mr Myers, 39, of Central London, told the tribunal: 'I contacted the Daily Mail newsroom. I met with a journalist. At our meeting I told him the whole story of my employment with the BBC.

'I explained the matter around First Positions and what had happened. He asked me if I had raised the First Positions matter with the BBC. I confirmed that I had repeatedly.

'The BBC had been very aggressive because I had leaked the story.

'The BBC's lawyers had written to me and attached a copy of the Computer Misuse Act, with prison sentence attached to it.'

He added: 'This was potentially a fraud allegation. There was a cover-up. There was an organisational cover-up.'

The evidence came in an employment tribunal at Watford between Mr Myers and the BBC. He accuses the corporation of forcing him out after he turned whistleblower.

Mr Myers had discovered that 70,000-a-year BBC manager Craig White, 47, was signing off payments to studio staff supplied by private firms, one of which was run by his lover, 47-year-old Jane Fleury.

Mr White personally authorised payments of 69,000 to Miss Fleury's First Positions Ltd.

And over a three-year period, staff in his department had paid a total of 1.6million to the same company before Mr White declared a 'conflict of interest' to the BBC.

Miss Fleury is a former BBC manager and First Positions is an agency she set up seven years ago to supply studio crew. They have worked on some of the BBC's most popular programmes.

The couple are both listed on the electoral roll at Miss Fleury's Grade-II listed Cotswold stone townhouse in Burford, Oxfordshire.

Corporation chiefs were urged to investigate suspicions of a possible conspiracy over the payments, which had soared 2,500 per cent in two years.

The tribunal heard that one of the BBC's own lawyers, Laura Juliet, advised in May 2011: 'The important thing now is to carry out a full investigation... to establish whether there has been any conspiracy'.

But this legal advice was allegedly 'ignored' on the orders of the BBC's highest-paid boss, John Smith, who at the time was the 1million-a-year chief executive of BBC Worldwide.

Mr Myers claimed the BBC's audit department 'had been told by John Smith to ignore the legal advice and simply do a review', the tribunal was told.

Mr Smith, who left the corporation last year after 23 years, is about to join luxury retailer Burberry as chief operating officer.

Mr Smith is due to give evidence later, and it is understood he will strenuously reject the suggestion he ignored legal advice, and will say he ordered an independent investigation.

The BBC's investigation into the dealings between it and First Positions produced a single-page report, exonerating all concerned.

Mr White told the Mail he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

At the tribunal, Caspar Glyn QC, for the BBC, repeatedly accused Mr Myers of fabricating conversations to bolster his claims, suggesting he had 'made up a series of wholly untrue fictional lies'. Mr Myers insisted he was telling the truth.

Last night the BBC said: 'We are vigorously contesting the Employment Tribunal claim made by Mr Myers. It is inappropriate for us to comment further during the tribunal.'

The tribunal continues.

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