Mark Lawson quits Front Row amid 'appalling' bullying claims

Mark Lawson

BBC insiders claim Radio 4 presenter is facing a disciplinary process after complaints from 15 staff

LAST UPDATED AT 10:39 ON Thu 6 Mar 2014

MARK LAWSON, the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Front Row, has resigned from the show amid accusations of "horrendous" bullying.

The 51-year-old, who has fronted the arts and review programme since it began in 1998, has cited "personal reasons" for his departure, but insiders claim he is the subject of a bullying investigation, which began in January.

Graham Ellis, the deputy director of BBC Radio, was reportedly given a petition signed by 15 members of the Radio Arts Unit, making claims against Lawson and another BBC producer. They apparently complained of "appalling behaviour" and the "browbeating" of junior staff working on Front Row.

A BBC source with knowledge of the investigation told the Daily Telegraph: "Some of the people who work in the unit are young freelancers who might feel unable to stand up to him. He has had a position of influence for a long time. I think it was very clear that there was a real problem and they had to deal with it.

"The investigatory process had moved on to a disciplinary process, and it was after that happened that he decided to leave."

The bullying investigation is being carried out by a senior manager from BBC Manchester and two executives from the corporation's human resources department. The complaint reportedly detailed "a culture of bullying and a failure of management to protect staff".

When confronted by the Telegraph at his farmhouse in Towcester, Northants, Lawson said: "I have nothing to say. We have a family illness. This is private property." He is understood to have denied bullying any of his colleagues, though he acknowledged there were "editorial arguments", says the paper.

In a statement, the BBC confirmed that Lawson is leaving Front Row and said he had been away from the programme for a month on medical advice. It added that the show will continue to be presented by John Wilson and Kirsty Lang, alongside other guest presenters such as Tom Sutcliffe. · 

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