John Simpson, the world affairs editor for the BBC, has ditched his plans to run a corporate consultancy business amid criticism that it would be a breach of editorial guidelines.
Simpson used his personal website to advertise the company, called Simpson Associates, which would offer media relations and crisis management advice.
It has been reported that on the site it was promised that the journalist’s “extensive network” of contacts including a “global team of expert advisers that include former senior editors and correspondents” could “respond seamlessly to our clients’ needs”.
In an article for the Mail Online an unnamed BBC journalist described the work as an “appalling breach of editorial policy guidelines”.
On Thursday (26 May) a retweet from Simpson's account – thought to be managed by someone else – linked to the with the comment “I like my shiny new website”. Simpson has since claimed he had not seen or approved the website’s content.
The website was removed on Friday (27 May).
“The supposed facts in the Mail’s article are ludicrously inaccurate. I didn’t write or see the entries on my website, which was a work in progress, and wasn’t meant to go public,” said Simpson in response to the criticism.
“Two years ago I was given a new agreement which restricted me to 125 days a year with a commensurately deep cut in salary. I was given permission to work for any other organisation as long as it didn’t contravene the BBC’s guidelines, and I received an assurance that I could work for as long as I wanted. Throughout my long career I’ve never once transgressed the BBC’s guidelines.”
The BBC said he had agreed not to go ahead with the business.
“This would have been considered commercial work that is not compatible with BBC editorial guidelines or John’s role at the BBC as such John agrees he won’t be taking these activities forward,” a spokesperson said.