Ross or­dered to stay off air for 3 months

And we won’t be pay­ing for him

Daily Express - - NEWS - By Mark Reynolds and Martin Evans

AR­RO­GANT Jonathan Ross es­caped with a slap on the wrist last night. But the re­spected head of Ra­dio 2 be­came the scape­goat for the ob­scene phone prank he played on vet­eran ac­tor An­drew Sachs. Sta­tion con­troller Les­ley Dou­glas, who has rev­o­lu­tionised Ra­dio 2’s for­tunes and mas­sively boosted its lis­ten­ers, quit her post.

BBC Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Mark Thomp­son said this was Ross’s last chance – af­ter he sus­pended the pre­sen­ter for three months without pay.

He said: “I have spo­ken to Jonathan Ross and told him that his con­tri­bu­tion to this pro­gramme was to­tally un­ac­cept­able. Jonathan should see this as a fi­nal warn­ing.”

Ross en­joys an £18mil­lion deal over three years – which is funded by li­cence-fee pay­ers. This is due to run out in 2010.

His sus­pen­sion will al­low him to walk away with his con­tract in­tact.

So far this year, Ross has earned £5mil­lion.

Yes­ter­day’s sus­pen­sion ap­peared to ig­nore pub­lic opin­ion, with 97 per cent of Daily Ex­press read­ers be­liev­ing Ross should be sacked.

Last night Mr Thomp­son said: “The ul­ti­mate ed­i­to­rial re­spon­si­bil­ity for BBC pro­grammes lies with pro­duc­ers and ed­i­to­rial man­agers. The con­se­quences of er­rors of judg­ment are there­fore more se­ri­ous for man­agers.

“None­the­less, Jonathan Ross’s con­tri­bu­tion to this edi­tion of the Rus­sell Brand show was ut­terly un­ac­cept­able and can­not be al­lowed to go un­cen­sured or without sanc­tion.

“A 12-week sus­pen­sion is an ex­cep­tional step, but I be­lieve it is a pro­por­tion­ate re­sponse to Jonathan’s role in this un­happy af­fair.”

He added: “He has made a com­pre­hen­sive and un­re­served per­sonal apol­ogy to An­drew Sachs and his grand­daugh­ter.

Dis­ci­pline

“We agree that noth­ing like this must ever hap­pen again and that tight dis­ci­pline will be re­quired for the fu­ture.”

A me­dia in­sider ex­plained: “The BBC have clearly come up with a way of hang­ing on to one of their best tal­ents. They will be hop­ing the whole af­fair blows over and Ross can take up his prom­i­nent role in a few months’ time.

“But some li­cence-fee pay­ers will be an­gry that he ap­pears to have got off while some­one else has been made the fall guy for his ac­tions.”

The res­ig­na­tion of Mrs Dou­glas came af­ter a meet­ing be­tween Mr Thomp­son and the 12 BBC trustees. In her res­ig­na­tion let­ter she of­fered her “per­sonal apol­ogy to An­drew Sachs, 78, and his fam­ily and to the au­di­ence for what has hap­pened”.

She added: “The events of the last two weeks hap­pened on my watch. I be­lieve it is right that I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for what has hap­pened.”

Last night Mr Thomp­son called Mr Sachs to of­fer his per­sonal apol­ogy.

Mr Sachs still voiced his sym­pa­thy for Ross and Brand – and said he felt for Mrs Dou­glas. But he added: “They can’t com­plain.”

As com­plaints reached 35,700 yes­ter­day, a quar­ter of peo­ple in an on­line poll said that they planned to boy­cott both Brand’s and Ross’s shows.

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