MARK Thompson, the BBC's director general, will today report to the BBC Trust his findings on the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand affair in which lewd and offensive messages were left on the voicemail of the actor Andrew Sachs. The meeting should be a short one. Mr Thomson should tell the Trust's chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, that the broadcast was unacceptable and had given severe offence. These are words Mr Thompson has already used and on that basis he should say that he proposes to cancel the contracts that Ross and Brand have with the BBC - even if they have to be paid substantial compensation.
The Trust will also want to hear from Mr Thompson how it happened that a BBC producer decided to use the pre-recorded programme even though he or she had 48 hours in which to consider whether it would be appropriate to do so. The decision to go ahead must be one of the most abysmal made in the history of the BBC and, again, Mr Thompson should tell the BBC Trust today that the person concerned will be summarily dismissed.
There are no ifs or buts about this matter. The Ofcom broadcasting code, to which the BBC adheres, says clearly that producers must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context. The four messages left on Andrew Sach's voicemail were gratuitously and recklessly offensive and apologies or suspensions or lessons to be learnt will not make adequate amends.