Former Labour government member James Purnell has accused the BBC of blocking him from a top position, supposedly to keep favor with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.
Purnell has held a number of high-ranking positions within the BBC over the years and was its director of radio and education between 2016 and 2020. However, when the broadcaster’s new director general, Tim Davie, offered Purnell a position on the board in 2020, other non-executive directors “decided they didn’t want someone with a Labour background,” Purnell said in a series of tweets, adding that in his case, “the BBC Board decided that … politics should exclude.”
Before joining the BBC, Purnell served as secretary for culture, and later for work and pensions, in then Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour government. When he joined the BBC in 2013, Purnell resigned from the Labour Party.
On Friday, Purnell said he did not know who exactly insisted on barring him from taking a board seat and insisted it was not about partisan politics. “Arguably, it was a legitimate part of their role as a unitary board,” he said, calling it “a moment of fear and vulnerability.”