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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Did BBC reporter kill himself after 'sexual harassment' from female colleague?

Russell Joslin back in 2004 Photo: NEWSTEAM
-The telegraph-By Andrew Hough:

Allegations that a BBC journalist killed himself after being sexually harassed and bullied at work are being investigated by police, it emerged today.

Detectives have launched an inquiry into claims that a senior female colleague harassed Russell Joslin, 50, before his suspected suicide this week.

Mr Joslin, whose father is a former chief constable, was considered popular reporter at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, where he had worked since the mid-90s.

He died on Monday afternoon after he was admitted to a mental health hospital following a failed suicide bid two days earlier. He had been on long-term sick leave from his job but had recently returned to work.

His devastated family have accused Corporation bosses of failing to stop his death after they claimed he was harassed by an unnamed female colleague, who still works at the public broadcaster.

Warwickshire Police today confirmed they had been asked by the reporter’s 78 year-old father Peter, the former top officer who led the force for 44 years, to investigate allegations his son was sexually harassed and bullied by the woman.

A spokesman said: "We can confirm that Warwickshire Police is assisting the coroner in establishing the circumstances of Mr Joslin's death, including gathering information from the family which is normal practice in these matters.

"As such we are working with, and will be led by, the coroner who is responsible for conducting an inquest into the circumstances of Mr Joslin's death."

In a statement, his family added: "This is what Russell would have wanted. It is the first step towards justice for Russell."

Friends and family have previously claimed Mr Joslin had been left a “shadow of his former self” after feeling that bosses failed to act on his complaints about the senior woman colleague.

Today it also emerged that the journalist, who lived in a flat next door to his parents' home in Kenilworth, Warks., received a text message apparently sent in error from a BBC chief days before his death.

The text, from BBC West Midlands' head of programmes Cath Hearne, said: "However, do not contact him until he gets back to me. This is massively sensitive."

It comes a few days after alleged answer phone messages from the female colleague were said to have disclosed how she branded him "flaky" and a "loser" after they rowed during a meal out together in 2007.

His family today called for an independent inquiry into whether the corporation's management properly responded to his complaints about the alleged sexual harassment.

A BBC spokesman declined to comment on specific details but said the public broadcaster was “committed to working constructively with the family to ensure that their concerns are vigorously addressed”.

She added: “What we can say is that we are undertaking an investigation overseen by an external professional to establish the facts about how any complaints made by Russell were reported and how the BBC acted on them.

“We will also co-operate fully with the coroner's inquest which is charged with determining the cause of Russell’s death and will consider its findings carefully.”

It is believed that the female colleague, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies a complaint was ever made.

An inquest into his death disclosed that he died of "asphyxiation". His funeral is due to take place tomorrow in Kenilworth.