Cambridgeshire

BBC Look East reporter Sally Chidzoy 'victim of witch-hunt'

Sally Chidzoy
Image caption Sally Chidzoy has worked at the BBC for 30 years

A BBC TV reporter was the victim of a "witch-hunt" after blowing the whistle on political interference, a tribunal has heard.

Sally Chidzoy said she was targeted after raising concerns when an MP appeared to convince a senior colleague to drop one of her stories.

She further alleges she was "falsely imprisoned" by management during an attempt to seize her phone.

Ms Chidzoy also claims she was sexually discriminated against and victimised.

The tribunal in Cambridge was told Ms Chidzoy, who works as BBC Look East's home affairs correspondent, had been investigating East of England Ambulance Service boss Anthony Marsh's salary package.

She said the story was dropped after assistant editor Steve Silk received a late-night email from then-Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb in July 2014.

'Potential damage'

Sent from a private account, it noted Mr Lamb's "real concern about the potential damage" the story could have on the service.

Giving evidence, Ms Chidzoy said she had discovered a "very close" relationship between Mr Lamb and Dr Marsh and she felt the MP was "attempting, in my view, to stop a broadcast".

"He should not be doing this and leaning on the BBC and its duty to be impartial and independent.

"[It was] a direct attempt to interfere with an ongoing piece that had not yet been broadcast."

Representing the BBC, Sophie Belgrave disputed the suggestion Mr Silk had been influenced by the email, saying he would have done it in a "clandestine" way had this been the case.

She said: "If he was going to give in to political interference from Norman Lamb on the sly, they would just do it."

Disciplinary proceedings were launched against Ms Chidzoy after she raised the issue of the MP's interference and after an email from Mr Lamb to Mr Silk was leaked to a Sunday newspaper.

Bosses subsequently attempted to seize her phone and "falsely imprisoned" her at a meeting in September 2014, the tribunal was told.

Ms Chidzoy said she investigated another story about the Centre for Business and Public Sector Ethics, which was receiving money from the Chinese government.

She was informed BBC Look East editor Nikki O'Donnell was the "organisation's press spokesperson", the tribunal was told.

Ms Chidzoy said: "The problems I encountered involved what I believe is internal corruption and poor management."

She also alleges she was subjected to a covert investigation by ex-Met police officers at the BBC investigation unit while the proceedings were ongoing.

The tribunal continues.

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