BBC staff rallies in support of Johnston

More than 1,000 people attended rallies across the BBC today to highlight the plight of Alan Johnston as concern for his well-being heightened after an unsubstantiated claim that he has been killed.

Since the BBC correspondent's disappearance in Gaza, gatherings have taken place each Monday afternoon at the BBC’s Television Centre and Bush House. These gatherings, together with events at other BBC locations, took place again today at 2.15pm.

At Television Centre, BBC director general Mark Thompson addressed around 500 staff “demanding urgent clarification from the Foreign Office and the Palestinian Authority” on the claim by the Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad that it had killed Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza City on 12 March.

Mark Byford, deputy director-general also spoke briefly.

BBC global news director Richard Sambrook addressed a further 200 people at Bush House.

There were further addresses in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Orkney and Inverness in Scotland as well as Cardiff, Manchester, Belfast, Newcastle, Birmingham and Bristol. Local radio stations also showed their support and there were vigils in Beirut and Brussels.

Thompson told staff at Television Centre that Helen Boaden, BBC director of news, was with Johnston’s parents in Scotland.

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