BBC presenter in serious breach of editorial guidelines

9 March 2016

A BBC Radio presenter was in “serious breach” of its Editorial Guidelines during interviews with Christian Legal Centre client Rev Barry Trayhorn and case worker Libby Powell, the BBC Trust has ruled.

In its report, the Trust also said that BBC Three Counties Radio presenter Iain Lee had been “unduly confrontational” by including personal attacks in the interviews.

Libby Powell and Barry Trayhorn had agreed to do the interviews with Three Counties Radio, who wished to discuss Barry’s case.

Barry felt compelled to resign after Bible verses he quoted during a chapel service provoked an aggressive response from prison authorities. With the help of the Christian Legal Centre he has taken his case to an Employment Tribunal, and is now awaiting the result of the hearing.

‘Poisonous and hateful’

During the interviews, Mr Lee called Libby a bigot, later telling her that she was doing Christianity a “real disservice”.

Barry Trayhorn was interviewed an hour later, and was told by Mr Lee: “I find what you’re saying so obnoxious… it’s poisonous and it’s hateful. God you’re obnoxious.”

Barry then attempted to intervene before Mr Lee shouted: “Let me finish Barry. Let me finish before you spout your hatred.”

Both the station and Mr Lee issued an apology. However, Mr Lee told the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee that he continues to “stand by both interviews in terms of their content and tone”.

He informed the BBC that the only part of the output he wished to apologise for referred to some Christians behaving in a “horrible, patronising, superior way”.

The interviews took place on 3 November last year, an on air apology came later on 11 November, before Mr Lee left the station on 16 November.

Listen to the interviews with Barry and Libby below:


In its ruling the Trust, which acts as the final stage of the BBC complaints process, declared “[The trustees] considered that in both interviews, the interviewees were not treated with respect but instead faced significant personal criticism and challenge and that, overall, the tone of the interviews was inappropriate.

“The Trustees considered that the presenter should have been able to robustly and properly challenge the interviewees without recourse to personal attack and without taking a personal position on it.

“They noted that a final interviewee from the Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement was able to challenge the views of the two previous interviewees in a manner that was measured and productive.”

Following the interview and Mr Lee’s departure from Three Counties Radio, BBC Feedback listeners supported Libby Powell and Barry Trayhorn.

Please pray

Please continue to pray for Barry Trayhorn and the Christian Legal Centre team as they await the result from Barry’s hearing at the Employment Tribunal.

Find out more about Barry Trayhorn
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