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August 7, 2014

BBC’s ex-CTO John Linwood wins tribunal

He was only 15% responsible for his sacking over £100m DMI project.

By Joe Curtis

The CTO fired by the BBC over its failed £100m Digital Media Initiative (DMI) project has won his tribunal.

John Linwood was only 15% culpable for his dismissal from the broadcaster in January, the tribunal has ruled.

It found against the broadcaster, which it accused of having "profoundly, substantively and procedurally flawed" disciplinary processes.

Linwood claimed he was made a scapegoat for the scrapped DMI project, an ambitious IT initiative to link digital production tools with a central, digital archive for staff to access throughout production periods.

He told the tribunal earlier this year that technology was never cited as a reason for the failure, and claimed the BBC was seeking someone to blame, adding that the tech could have been used.

Meanwhile the BBC accused him of fleeing his responsibilities, and overseeing a huge failure, charging him with gross misconduct.

Execs wrote to him saying: "You have consistently failed to put in place actions to stop the continued spending of the project budget even though you were aware the project would not deliver."

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However, in a verdict made on Thursday (and released publicly today), the tribunal said the BBC was wrong to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Linwood.

It also found the BBC had failed to present Linwood with documents to prepare for a meeting in a timely manner, flooding his inbox with emails just days before.

A BBC spokesman said: "This was a very difficult set of circumstances for the BBC. We had a major failure of a significant project, and we had lost confidence – as the tribunal acknowledges – in John Linwood.

"At the time we believed we acted appropriately. The tribunal has taken a different view – we are disappointed with the outcome, but nevertheless we will learn lessons from the judgment and we’re grateful to staff who were involved in dealing with a very difficult case."

A date for a remedy hearing will be set by the end of the month.

The BBC has since appointed a new CTO, promoting its R&D controller Matthew Postgate to the role in July.

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