Colleagues are said to be "incredulous" after Panorama reporter Raphael Rowe was "pushed out" of the BBC and made redundant.
His departure has been condemned as leading to a "further reduction to the BBC's already woeful diversity".
- July 22, 2021
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Rowe has worked for the BBC since 2000, shortly after he was released from prison. Some 12 years earlier, he was wrongly convicted for murder.
Press Gazette understands Rowe's redundancy also means Panorama has no more staff reporters. John Sweeney is on attachment at BBC two flagship news programme Newsnight, Shelley Jofre has been redeployed to BBC Scotland and Paul Kenyon has taken redundancy.
It emerged in June 2014 that BBC News was making all Panorama staff reporters redundant.
At the time, Sweeney suggested in an interview with Press Gazette that the cuts would give "management" too much control.
“I don’t have a God-given right to work for Panorama and Ceri Thomas, the new editor, has decided that he doesn’t want staff reporters. We cost money, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that’s his decision, fine,” he told Press Gazette.
“I also feel that if you are on contract it makes it harder to have an argument with management because you know you might not be invited back. There is a nice check and balance if you have a staff job. To be honest with you, it makes it harder to get rid of you."
Sweeney has not yet left the BBC but is no longer working for Panorama and is on attachment with Newsnight.
Last month, he told how he had survived three redundancy letters from the BBC but was due to leave on 31 December. Press Gazette understands this has now been extended to 31 March.
Rowe was also due to leave on 31 December but his redundancy was extended to 15 January. He has now left the corporation.
Sue Harris, broadcasting representative of the National Union of Journalists, said: "NUJ members in BBC News are incredulous that it can claim it had no work for someone of Raphael's talent.
"We lament this further reduction to the BBC's already woeful diversity – particularly its on-air diversity in News – with his departure.
"It's shocking that public money is being used to get rid of him when BBC News management continues to bring their mates in through the back door from other broadcasters and elsewhere.”
Before working for the BBC, Rowe served 12 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder in 1988. He, Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson were dubbed the "M25 Three".
A BBC spokesperson said: "We have a tough financial environment and must make savings. The closure of the four remaining staff roles at Panorama was announced back in 2014 and since then Raphael has been working on other assignments across the BBC. We are very sad to see him now leave the organisation.
"It is misleading to base our diversity record on one person’s circumstances especially when the proportion of BAME staff is at an all-time high. Panorama now works with a range of freelance and BBC News staff which means a bigger pool of reporters and more on air diversity."