From 'dead man walking' to 'dead man drinking': BBC's John Sweeney survives three redundancy letters

Panorama reporter John Sweeney has survived three redundancy letters from the BBC, he has revealed.

Sweeney was first told he was facing redundancy in July 2014, when James Harding announced around 400 BBC News redundancies.

He has described the corporation's decision to make him redundant as "bewildering".

Sweeney's fourth redundancy letter would see him leave Panorama on 31 December. 

As part of the July 2014 Delivering Quality First cuts, it was announced that all staff reporter positions on Panorama were to be made redundant.

There were three other staff reporters at Panorama in July 2014. Press Gazette understands Shelley Jofre has been redeployed to BBC Scotland, Paul Kenyon has taken redundancy and Raphael Rowe is, like Sweeney, due to be made redundant on 31 December.

In an interview with Press Gazette on the day his impending redundancy emerged, Sweeney revealed his office nickname had been "dead man walking" for months.

But now, in an interview with podcast Media Focus, it has emerged he is known as "dead man drinking".

"They've given me four redundancy letters and they've given me back three," Sweeney told host Paul Blanchard.

“My colleagues on the programme, who I adore, call me dead man drinking.

"And to be honest, I don’t want to go on about this, but I found – the BBC making me redundant – I found it bewildering.

"They’re still thinking about it and there’s still a possibility I might get redeployed… I might stay, I might go. It doesn’t matter, it’s not a big problem."

Sweeney added: "I do feel that the BBC is, as Paxman said, a noble thing and I think it would be crazy to take it apart.

"At the moment, it feels to me, as if it’s being salami sliced.

"But something like the Paris attacks tells you, doesn’t it, that this helps supply honest news. And the reporter who cried, it tells you the BBC isn’t just a bunch of robots. We are a good organisation funded by, for me, the most enlightened public in the world…

"I genuinely, genuinely and passionately believe that the BBC is a good thing and we as a country should pay for it.”



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