The BBC scores a point for objectivity in reporting when an interview questioning Rona Fairhead’s suitability for the job as chair of the BBC Trust while moonlighting at scandal-ridden HSBC, might have been scrapped from the the airwaves, according to the Daily Mail.
In addition to the controversy over HSBC, the Swiss bank that has been accused of giving undue tax breaks to wealthy clients, is the role Rona Fairhead, head of BBC Trust with the bank. In her non-executive role with HSBC, she received 5 times the amount of pay she takes home annually from the BBC for only 50 days of work.
The main issue wasn’t so much the amount of money or the moonlighting, but the issue of a possible conflict of interest between her role at a bank under investigation and the one she holds at the internationally respected news agency that is investigating it. Concerns over this conflict of interest were expressed when long-time HSBC critic and businessman Michael Mason Mahon claimed that statements he made saying Fairhead was not suitable to be head of the BBC Trust were suppressed.
Mason-Mahon said in the interview, according to the Mail, “I couldn’t understand why a non-executive director who is there to protect shareholders ignored us when we told her on numerous occasions in the past about illegal behaviour that was going on involving HSBC. It is my personal belief that she is not a fit and proper person to be chairwoman of the BBC Trust. The HSBC item was shown, but my interview was not in it. I believe it might have been suppressed.” The BBC said, “Like every news organization we don’t use every interview we conduct, ” and added that the notion that the interview was suppressed because it criticized Fairhead and the BBC was “simply wrong.”
Last week, former BBC chairman Christopher Bland urged Fairhead to choose between working at the BBC or HSBC. Fairhead is testifying before the House of Commons about her role at HSBC.