Susan Watts and Richard Sambrook

By January 28, 20042 Comments

Talking of the Today programme, an interesting revelation spilt on to the airwaves after Rod Little’s little piece. Lord Gilbert, former defence minister, was giving his verdict. After a crescendo of anti-BBC superlatives, he singled out Richard Sambrook, Head of News at the BBC for special criticism. And then the revelation – “Lord Hutton never focused on… [Sambrook’s] relationship with one of his fellow employees, Miss Susan Watts”. The very same Susan Watts, BBC Newsnight reporter, who was one of the reporters at the centre of the Hutton Inquiry. At which point the presenter blusters, says that he doesn’t know what on earth he is talking about, and cuts him off. Here’s a recording of it – gilbert_watts.mp3 – check out the interview from 41 seconds onwards.
Will the media pick up on that, or protect their own?


  • Wibbler says:

    From Matthew Norman (full link here):
    Hats off, first of all, to Lord Hutton for such a splendidly balanced report. Quickest out of the traps for the gloaters yesterday was ex-defence minister John Gilbert. He excelled himself on The World At One by seemingly hinting at an illicit connection between BBC head of news Richard Sambrook and Newsnight’s Susan Watts (now on maternity leave), speaking darkly of their “relationship”. When presenter Nick Clarke asked what he meant, Lord G replied he knew exactly what he meant – at which point Clarke cut him off to avoid broadcasting a major libel. Marvellous work, Marina tells Lord G, but what were you on about? “Well, they got it totally wrong … I mean, the presenter was so ignorant of the background that he thought I was talking about some kind of sexual relationship.” Well, it did sound that way, to be honest. “Look, do YOU have any idea of the background to this?” What, the fact she hired her own lawyers as she felt under pressure from Mr Sambrook? “Ah, well you do know then,” he says. Marina points out that “relationship” sounds questionable. “Well, if one unfortunate word slipped out …” It’s difficult, live broadcasting, isn’t it? Perhaps you should’ve scripted your two-way to avoid the risk of a monstrous howler? “Er … yes, I quite see.” Well done.’

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