A BBC journalist has spoken out over claims she blew the whistle on a “cover up” at the Corporation after sharing her story of sexual harassment.
In a blog on the BBC website, Rajini Vaidyanathan revealed how she was “horrified” when a married ex-colleague sent her explicit messages and telling her he was obsessed with masturbating.
She said: “His messages continued and became more creepy. He said he’d fantasised about sex with powerful women, and how he wanted to cheat on his wife.
“I told him to talk to someone else - not me - and to get help.
“I didn’t tell anyone at first. I felt disgusted but kept it to myself.
“Months later I was chatting to another female colleague who told me that for years she had received dirty messages from the same man. I let out a sigh of relief, as I realised I could finally share my story.”
Shortly afterwards, Vaidyanathan heard that he had been fired after another colleague filed a complaint against him.
In a separate incident, she recalled being repeatedly propositioned by a colleague in a restaurant, leaving her feeling “disgusted and uncomfortable”.
And on another occasion, she received a suggestive text from another married colleague, who then came and knocked on her hotel room door.
The Telegraph reported on the story on Wednesday with the headline, “BBC presenter blows whistle over ‘cover-up’ of harassment”.
The article, which does not appear online but featured on the paper’s front page, begins: “The BBC was plunged into a sexual harassment row last night after it emerged it hushed up the sacking of senior journalist who bombarded women with explicit text messages.”
Vaidyanathan has since insisted that the report contained “errors” and that there “was no cover up”.
To be clear. The @dailytelegraph write up of my #metoo experience contains errors. The BBC DID NOT try to hush up the sacking of a colleague who sent harassing messages to women inc me. Managers were v open about it after. He was sacked within days of person making a complaint.— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) October 18, 2017
I wasn't aware of what had happened immediately, as I no longer worked with him. But I found out a while after. There was no cover up over this I can assure you. Also BBC has been extremely supportive in allowing me to share my story. And continues to be.— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) October 18, 2017
In short this headline isn't what the story should be. The point is people, mainly women, in all industries/workplaces face harassment. My article was to highlight how common it is. #metoo. pic.twitter.com/glc9eIRKeW— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) October 18, 2017
Vaidyanathan also responded to a question from another Twitter user who asked: “Was pasta guy a prob cos he was a colleague? Or too forward? Is it ever OK to say u fancy some1 ? Or not if u work togther (sic)?”
It was a work meeting. He was much more senior/in a position of power and in relationship. His language was overtly sexual for someone who's a colleague. He was twice my age. Not saying colleagues can't ask each other out. But this was not in a social setting + he wasn't a friend— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) October 18, 2017
Meanwhile, a column by the Daily Mail’s Sarah Vine, which was featured on the front page of her publication, attracted criticism on Wednesday for suggesting that Vaidyanathan was comparing her experience to the recent Harvey Weinstein sex abuse allegations.
“Of course the experience was unpleasant for her, but if that’s sexual harassment then I wonder what on Earth she would have made of the incident that occurred 20-or-so years ago in the female changing area of Stoke Newington swimming pool, when a naked woman entered my cubicle with amorous intent (#itsnotalwaystheman’sfault).
“The truth is that most of us — male and female — will at some point have been the subject of unwanted sexual attention. This may have made us feel embarrassed, uncomfortable — or, as in my case, rather surprised.
“But to compare incidents such as this with the awful things some of Weinstein’s victims had to endure is to belittle the very serious nature of the crime of sex abuse and the suffering of its victims.”
She accused Vaidyanathan of “lumping together every woman’s experience of goatish men via some stupid hashtag”, calling it an “act of intolerable insensitivity” and “as damaging as maintaining a conspiracy of silence”.
Many expressed their exasperation...
It's the Sarah Vine hot take we've all been waiting for pic.twitter.com/W9aNzR5osj— Anita Singh (@anitathetweeter) October 17, 2017
TOMORROW: Oh good, here comes Sarah Vine to explain what is and isn't sexual harassment. pic.twitter.com/cGTqZCaf8k— Pointless Letters (@pointlesslettrs) October 17, 2017
Sarah Vine: Queen of the Straw-man argument and Princess of False Equivalence. pic.twitter.com/Jqeaeh6iae— Colm Nugent (@Wigapedia) October 18, 2017
Weinstein has been accused by a string of actresses of harassment, sexual assault and rape but the movie mogul has “unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual relationships.