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Russell Brand's calls put BBC in hot water

BBC bosses came under fire from British politicians after admitting "serious editorial lapses" over the Russell Brand affair, in which the bawdy comic broadcast a series of obscene phone calls.
/ Source: Reuters

BBC bosses came under fire from British politicians Tuesday after admitting "serious editorial lapses" over the Russell Brand affair, in which the bawdy comic broadcast a series of obscene phone calls.

BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons and director general Mark Thompson testified to the Culture Media and Sport select committee that the public broadcaster's editorial standards had failed at a senior level.

"There are many aspects of this affair that I would have liked to see handled differently," Lyons told an all-party committee of members of parliament.

The row began in October after BBC Radio 2 broadcast a recorded phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs during which Brand and co-presenter Jonathan Ross bragged about Brand's alleged sexual relationship with the granddaughter of the "Fawlty Towers" star.

In the aftermath of a furor that drew nearly 50,000 complaints from the public, BBC management suspended TV and radio star Ross for 12 weeks, and both Brand and Radio 2 head Leslie Douglas resigned.

Thompson said the BBC has improved its editorial standards. But with the number of BBC outlets across television, radio and the Internet, he admitted: "Sometimes we will get it wrong."

"This is a very untypical, utterly unacceptable but genuinely exceptional lapse," Thompson added.