BBC Questioned Over Funeral Flowers

A senior member of staff at BBC Scotland has questioned her employer’s expenses policy, on the sensitive issue of sending flowers to the family of a deceased member of staff.

In last week’s issue of the BBC’s in-house weekly newspaper, Ariel, Isabel Cosgrove – HR & development manager at BBC Scotland – asks why she has been unable to send flowers to a funeral while colleagues are still sending flowers for other reasons, such as a thank you to ‘talent’.

She writes: “I work in BBC People and therefore have to deal with sad situations like the death in service of a member of staff. In these cases, one of the things that helps the family is that the BBC acknowledges its appreciation of the deceased staff member. I think most of us would agree that this is normally shown, amongst cards and letters, by the sending of flowers to the funeral.

“However, we have been prevented from doing this in the last few situations in Scotland because of the expenses policy. I have been looking at the recently published expenses of the senior executives and note that they have successfully claimed for sending flowers to individuals. How on earth is that possible?”

But the response of Zarin Patel, chief financial officer, gave little hope that a change of policy is imminent. She replied: “Our staff are very important to us and they make the BBC what it is but it is still hard to justify the purchase of gifts for staff from the licence fee funds. Flowers and other gifts are however occasionally purchased for talent to mark notable successes and significant events. This helps the BBC in the building and nurturing of relationships and collaborations to bring the best performers to air and is usual amongst this community.”

It is understood that Cosgrove was referring, in particular, to the tragic death, recently, of John Smart, a studio services manager at BBC Scotland, who died suddenly at the age of 48. Hard working and popular, his funeral service was packed out.

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