A TOP BBC journalist has accused bosses of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation, the Morning Star can reveal.
Lamine Konkobo, who has won awards for his work at BBC Afrique, the World Service division covering Francophone Africa, told an employment tribunal yesterday he has thoughts of suicide and was “driven to the brink of insanity” by management practices.
The journalist even wrote to the head of the World Service urging him to “think of all those people … who have to contend with keeping quiet in the shadows.”
Mr Konkobo, who was recruited overseas and took up his position in London in 2004, alleges his victimisation began in 2009. That year he raised concerns over the removal of Salif Sanago, a freelancer for the BBC in Mali. The allegations date up to October last year.
Mr Konkobo says BBC Afrique senior producer Estelle Cornado had decided Mr Sanago could not continue as a stringer because he was now in a management position at a local broadcaster.
Fellow BBC Afrique journalist Thierry Hot had questioned why Mr Sanago was removed while a number of other “moonlighting” journalists in similar situations were allowed to remain in post.
Bectu member Mr Konkobo sent a follow-up email to colleagues adding his support to these concerns.
“I expressed more plainly than Thierry Hot the disparity in how we were treated; because I named discrimination,” he wrote in his witness statement.
He claims his superior Ms Cornado “believes we Africans, non-white, are always to be reminded of something intrinsically deficient in us.”
He said BBC Afrique managers subsequently discriminated against him when he applied for a correspondent job covering southern Africa, he was offered only the local pay and conditions — rather than being offered the position as an attachment, with the option of returning to his job in London afterwards.
The BBC’s barrister said the previous correspondent and the woman offered the position after Mr Konkobo turned it down, who was white, were employed on local terms.
“The point I’m putting to you is that [the position] wasn’t an attachment, it never was,” the barrister told the hearing.
Mr Konkobo, who is representing himself, registers 10 further complaints.
After he had sent another grievance email, BBC Afrique London editor Mamadou Moussa Ba responded by saying journalists had faced “injustice, lack of fairness [and] arrogance” in the division.
At yesterday’s hearing the BBC contended that Mr Konkobo’s attribution of the alleged offences to particular individuals lacked evidence and did not make sense.
The BBC did not respond to a request for further comment. The hearing continues.