Pressure mounts on Ross as phone scandal goes to BBC governors

Pressure mounts on Ross as phone scandal goes to BBC governors

Pressure was building on Jonathan Ross today as BBC director general Mark Thompson reports to the corporation’s governing body on the prank-calls scandal.

Ross’s former colleague Russell Brand resigned last night after widespread condemnation of the prank the pair pulled on veteran actor Andrew Sachs.

He said he took “complete responsibility” for the incident which he blamed on getting “caught up in the moment”.

The pair left messages on the 'Fawlty' Towers star’s phone saying Brand had slept with his granddaughter Georgina Baillie and that he might kill himself after discovering about the encounter.

The messages were then broadcast and so far more than 25,000 people have complained.

Ross and Brand were both suspended yesterday, before Brand’s resignation, and filming for 'Friday Night With Jonathan Ross' show was cancelled hours before it was due to be recorded last night.

Ross has apologised to Sachs personally and yesterday issued a public apology for his, “juvenile and thoughtless” remarks.

Former heroin addict Brand had presented his Radio 2 show since November 2006 and was thought to be paid more than £200,000 (€251,000) a year by the BBC.

The BBC last night refused to discuss the arrangements for the termination of his contract, but reports suggest Ross has been suspended on full pay.

Today Mr Thompson will report to the BBC Trust the findings of the BBC management’s investigation into how the comments came to be cleared for broadcast.

Media watchdog Ofcom is also investigating.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said she could not comment on reports that Lesley Douglas, controller of popular music as well as Radio 2 and 6, was prepared to resign if members of her production staff were sacked.

A statement is expected from the trust by the end of this week and it will meet again to discuss the issue next month.

Brand paid tribute to Ross in his resignation statement last night calling him a “great broadcaster”.

He said that Ross had been “silly” but, “was not malicious” and added that he was a “lovely, kind, gentle man who did something a little bit silly”.

Brand said: “We made a mistake, crossed the line, ...what we did was wrong.”

He said he had not thought that the prank would have such great “repercussions”.

He said: “I didn’t think about it at all. I now acknowledge it was a really, really stupid thing to do, particularly as Andrew is an actor and comic performer that I very much admire”, he said.

Speaking to 'The Sun' after the pair’s suspension, Miss Baillie said: “I’m thrilled because justice has been done. Let’s see what Ofcom choose to do about it. I don’t know how it’s going to go from here.

“I’m really happy with the investigation. Me and my granddad are both really happy because it could have damaged our reputation permanently.”

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