S4C in serious crisis after 'culture of fear and secrecy' revealed at Welsh broadcaster

The broadcaster has apologised for what has been described as "unacceptable behaviours" at the network. Credit: S4C

S4C is in the grip of a serious crisis.

Two very senior members of staff, including the CEO, have been sacked for gross misconduct following allegations of bullying.

One has already started legal action against the Welsh-language broadcaster, while the other has called on the Departure for Media, Culture and Sport to hold an urgent investigation into the chairman of the channel, Rhodri Williams.

Today’s report by Cardiff law firm Capital Law is scathing. It outlines a culture of fear among staff members, ten of whom broke down in tears while giving evidence.

Allegations of abusive behaviour language are quoted in the report, attributed to former CEO Sian Doyle and former Chief Content Officer Llinos Griffin-Williams.

Sian Doyle described her dismissal as "an unprecedented lack of governance for a public body."

Ms Doyle said S4C chairman Rhodri Williams bred a "culture of fear, secrecy and excessive control", while Ms Griffin-Williams says she was left “devastated” by her “unfair dismissal” and is taking legal action against her former employer.

This chaos at the top of S4C matters because it is a public service broadcaster which receives most of its funding from the licence fee.

It is also happening at an extremely inconvenient period for the chair, who’s term of office ends in March next year.

The chair is appointed by the culture secretary in Westminster, but with the prospect of a general election looming there is concern the organisation will be left rudderless at a time when the morale of its workers is at an all-time low.

Former Chief Content Officer Llinos Griffin-Williams. Credit: S4C

As Gwyn Williams, former Director of Corporate Communications at S4C told me today, a decision must be made quickly on whether Rhodri Williams’s term is extended beyond March.

Otherwise it will be “impossible to appoint a new CEO”, without whom it is “impossible to appoint a new head of Content/Programmes".

"All these positions need filling so that the channel can begin the process of healing and rebuilding.”

In a statement tonight, Llinos Griffin-Williams has claimed that the idea this is “an independent, fair and rigorous report is a fallacy” and has called on DCMS to intervene to “preserve the future of S4C”.

In apologising today it’s clear S4C wishes to draw a line under this crisis - but with confirmation tonight that Rhodri Williams will be summoned before politicians in Westminster and Cardiff Bay next week - the upheaval within Wales’s only Welsh-language channel shows no sign of abating.

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