S4C chief executive Sian Doyle is sacked following review

The chief executive of S4C Sian Doyle has been sacked.

It comes after a review into procedures at the publicly-funded Welsh-language channel.

The move follows allegations of “bullying and a toxic culture” within the organisation.

“For us to begin to make improvements we need to make some changes immediately,” said the S4C Authority – which oversees the management of the station – in a statement.

Ms Doyle has released a statement strongly criticising the decision to dismiss her.

She said: “Today I was dismissed by the chairman of S4C, Rhodri Williams, in what I believe is an unprecedented lack of governance for a public body.

“I was dismissed by letter, without notice, without a meeting, without seeing a copy of the Capital Law report or any evidence, without a right of appeal, and without proper grounds.”

Capital Law is a legal firm that was appointed to carry out an independent investigation into concerns raised.

Ms Doyle said she was “enormously sad” her work at the channel had been cut short.

She was on £162,000 a year at S4C, was educated at Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph and graduated in History and Politics from Cardiff University.

She took up the post of S4C’s chief executive and accounting officer in January 2022 and had previously been managing director of telecommunications company TalkTalk.

The claims of bullying first surfaced in an email that was sent anonymously in April.

The letter written by the Bectu union described a “culture of fear” within the organisation, with staff being undermined by senior executives and “often left in tears”.

The letter also claimed that management had acted disrespectfully towards staff, and behaved “in an aggressive and confrontational” manner, when questions and concerns had been raised.

Union officials also said that S4C’s chief executive, Sian Doyle, had acknowledged the concerns of staff, but had also suggested that the term “bullying” was too often used in situations like these.

Following the publication of the letter, law firm Capital Law was appointed by the S4C chairman Rhodri Williams to undertake an independent investigation into concerns raised.

The findings of the investigation are yet to be published, but on Friday the channel confirmed that they had made the “difficult but unanimous decision” to remove Ms Doyle from her role.

“Members of the S4C Authority have considered the evidence provided as part of the fact-finding exercise undertaken by Capital Law into the working environment at S4C,” said the statement.

Image caption,

S4C’s headquarters are in Carmarthen

It added: “The nature and weight of the evidence provided was deeply troubling. It has undoubtedly been a challenging time for many individuals.

“As members of the authority, we would like to apologise for the stress and anguish caused by behaviours experienced in the workplace.

“It is clear from the evidence received that action needs to be taken to secure change within S4C, and there is still much work to do to deal with all the issues arising from the information received.

“The S4C Authority is committed to ensuring that S4C is a place where our staff are happy and safe – a place where they feel able to perform at their best and thrive.

“We recognise that we need to restore confidence and trust in the organisation – not only amongst our staff but with our partners in the creative sector, audiences in Wales and beyond.”

S4C added that it would begin the process to appoint a new chief executive in due course, as well as “publish a report that explains further the nature of the evidence received during the fact-finding process”.

Plaid Cymru’s culture spokeswoman, Heledd Fychan, said it was important staff and viewers had confidence in S4C’s leadership.

“Restoring that confidence to a channel that is one of the cornerstones of Welsh culture is a priority,” she said.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Tom Giffard said: “I hope that following this long-awaited review and the decisive action taken, that S4C can start to heal, begin to move on and a line can be drawn under the issue.”

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