Where is Bill Kamal now

Kamal Ahmed was axed from 'non-job' £ 205k BBC editorial director role 'after losing power struggle'

Axed BBC editorial director Kamal Ahmed lost his 'non-job' after falling out with a rival boss, MailOnline can reveal today.

The BBC has axed editorial director Mr Ahmed and two others from its news board in a 'modernization' plan - leaving it with no ethnic minority members despite a pledge to increase senior management diversity last year.

The slimmed-down board will remain headed by director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth, who earns £ 340,000-a-year, and is alleged to have won a power struggle with Mr Ahmed, who 'had it coming', a source said .

In February last year the BBC’s editorial director, earning between £ 205,000 and £ 209,999-a-year, agreed a £ 12,000 fee for a 40-minute appearance at the Aberdeen Standard Investment’s conference at a time when 450 people were laid off.

There were also claims of hypocrisy because at the time he was involved in an internal review of rules on BBC staff taking speaking engagements for cash, and he was forced to apologize in an email to colleagues, before refusing to accept the cash.

A BBC insider told MailOnline: 'No one working here was very surprised. Most people think he had it coming.

'Kamal had gone to Tony Hall (Previous director-general) arguing that we needed this editorial director role, and Tony created it for him. But most people think it was a non-job. He and Fran (Unsworth) did not get on.

'People didn't like him. They didn't understand how he was elevated so quickly, and many didn't forgive him for that speech to a hedge fund while lots of job losses were being announced here. '

Ahmed had a role as editorial director and oversaw Question Time for his £ 205,000 salary - but he appears to have lost a power struggle with director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth (right), BBC insider told MailOnline

In February last year the BBC’s editorial director apologized after he pocketed £ 12,000 for a 40-minute appearance at the Aberdeen Standard Investment’s conference at a time when hundreds of people were laid off. He then said he would not take the cash

The BBC said it was 'restructuring' the board as part of 'plans to modernize BBC News'

An £ 80 million savings plan saw the job cuts announced by the broadcaster yesterday afternoon, the 'restructuring' as part of 'plans to modernize BBC News'.

Two other members of the board, Gavin Allen and Jo Carr, have also lost their jobs after the restructuring.

From broadsheet to broadcast: The rise of Kamal Ahmed

Kamal Ahmed is a former newspaper man who started his career in Scotland during the nineties.

He moved to the Guardian and was appointed executive news editor at the Observer.

Ahmed briefly left journalism to become the Director of Communications at the Equality and Human Rights Commission but returned to reporting as business editor of the Sunday Telegraph in 2009.

He replaced Robert Peston as the business editor of BBC News in March 2014 and the next year took his role as economics editor.

Four years later he was announced as BBC News's Editorial Director in a position created by Fran Unsworth on the News Board.

Ahmed previously hit the headlines last February when he apologized for accepting a £ 12,000 payment for speaking at a banker's conference.

He received £ 12,000 for a 40-minute appearance at the Aberdeen Standard Investment's conference, just days after telling 450 of his colleagues that their jobs were being cut.

He came under fire both publicly and within the BBC for his fee for the event and has sent an email to colleagues apologizing.

In 2019, the corporation said all senior leadership groups should have at least two staff members from minority ethnic backgrounds.

However, Ahmed's departure will mean that the BBC News board is now all-white.

Former newspaper man Ahmed's role was created by Unsworth in 2018 and she said she was 'thrilled he was joining her top team'.

However, the pair are said to have had differences of opinion over the department's editorial direction, leading to his removal.

Reacting to the change, one BBC source told the Telegraph: 'And just like that our news board is all-white again. Not the direction I and many others hoped we would be going in. '

On Wednesday night, an email signed by dozens of BBC staff is believed to have been sent to Mr Davie protesting Ahmed's removal.

Tufayel Ahmed, a journalist and lecturer, said: 'Not even two years ago the BBC made a big fuss about being more inclusive and' stepping up 'by having BAME representation in every leadership team, and now it seems to be back-pedaling on its own promises.

'The BBC's decision to cut its only BAME news board member is particularly worrying because BAME people are being disproportionately affected by job cuts during the pandemic for no discernible reason.

'BAME journalists are already so woefully underrepresented in our newsrooms, especially at senior levels.'

However, a BBC spokeswoman said: 'The final membership of the BBC News Board has not been announced. Two out the eight posts - a quarter - are currently vacant. '

In June last year the BBC said it was committing to spend £ 100million of the existing commissioning budget on diverse content over three years.

The move, which starts in April 2021, will be backed up by a mandatory 20 per cent off-screen diversity target for production focused on under-represented groups.

What is the BBC News Group Board and what does it do?

Kamal Ahmed sat on the BBC News Group Board, the corporation's governance body for editorial issues.

It discusses how stories were covered, staffing issues and complaints.

But on the BBC's website there doesn't appear to be any agendas or minutes.

There is only a list of members.

The board will be whittled down from 11 to eight, as there will be three new roles.

This is because Mr Ahmed has gone. Two other members of the board, Gavin Allen and Jo Carr, have also lost their jobs after the restructuring.

Jamie Angus, currently director of the World Service Group, will become senior controller, news output and commissioning.

Jonathan Munro, who is head of newsgathering, will become senior controller, news content and deputy director of news, 'responsible for the production of the journalism that supports the BBC's news programs and platforms.'

The changes to the board will come into effect in March.

Within that includes people with a disability or from a BAME or 'disadvantaged socio-economic' background.

Last year the BBC announced its ambition to ensure it has 50% men and 50% women, at least 20% BAME and at least 12% disabled staff, including in leadership.

Tim Davie, the director-general, said on taking the job that diversity was 'mission critical' to the BBC.

Ahmed, whose mother is from Rotherham and whose father is from Sudan, had a role as editorial director which included overseeing Question Time and was paid around £ 205,000. He joined the BBC in 2014.

He found himself challenged in February last year when Victoria Derbyshire told him to 'reconsider the decision to close our program'.

It came after he had shared a post about a probe by Newsnight that had resulted in the Government announcing measures to ban putting children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation.

Ahmed wrote: 'Investigations matter. Original journalism matters. '

Derbyshire made her feelings known about her program's cancellation, and has condemned the BBC's claims that it pulled the show off air because it had failed to grow its live audience.

As well as Ahmed, Gavin Allen's £ 180,000 role as head of news output, overseeing the likes of Radio 4's Today program, News at Six and Ten and the now-axed Victoria Derbyshire show, will also be closed.

The post of Joanna Carr, who as head of BBC current affairs looked after Panorama and Newsnight and is paid around £ 165,000, will also go.

In a note to staff, Unsworth said she would 'like to thank them for their outstanding contribution to BBC News to date and we are exploring future options for them'.

Gavin Allen's £ 180,000 role as head of news output has also been closed as part of the cuts

Unsworth said the new board will help in 'increasing the impact of our world-class journalism, addressing changes in the way audiences consume news, achieving our savings target, and building a diverse culture inclusive of all.'

Who is on the BBC News Board?

Francesca Unsworth, director, News and Current Affairs

Jamie Angus, Director, World Service Group

Alan Dickson, Chief Financial and Operating Officer

Anna Gronmark, HR Director

Katie Lloyd, Development Director

Kate McAndrew, Chief of Staff

Jonathan Munro, Head of Newsgathering

Well Nielsen, digital director

Sarah Ward-Lilley, Managing Editor

It comes after the BBC announced cuts to Newsnight, 5Live and other news output as part of cost-cutting plans and an effort to reach the young.

The plans to 'modernize its newsroom' will lead to around 450 job cuts and includes a review of the number of BBC presenters 'and how they work'.

Ahmed previously hit the headlines last February when he apologized for accepting a £ 12,000 payment for speaking at a banker's conference.

He received £ 12,000 for a 40-minute appearance at the Aberdeen Standard Investment's conference, just days after telling 450 of his colleagues that their jobs were being cut.

He came under fire both publicly and within the BBC for his £ 12,000 fee for the event and has sent an email to colleagues apologizing.

In the email, he wrote: 'I realize now that I did not think things through sufficiently at the time of the booking and, although I did not break any of the BBC's guidelines on external speaking, it was a mistake to agree to a fee .

'I have told ASI this morning that I will not be taking any payment. I wanted to say sorry that a mistake made by me has become a public and internal issue. '

BBC executives Gavin Allen (left), Naja Nielsen (second from left), Jonathan Munro (second from right) and Kamal Ahmed (right) sat in front of staff on barstools at New Broadcasting House as they cut 450 jobs last year

Days before, Ahmed was one of four senior BBC bosses who sat on bar stools as they announced the job cuts.

He drew criticism after he turned up for the 'bloodbath' announcement wearing a black T-shirt and casual trousers.

This was reportedly out of character for the man who as political editor of the Observer was regarded as the faithful Fleet Street mouthpiece of Tony Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

BBC broadcaster Victoria Fritz tweeted: 'Got to be the first time I've not seen Kamal in a sharp suit and tie. At least he wore black. '

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