Radio presenter Dr Phil loses job over plan to stand for election in North East Somerset

September 03 2018
Radio presenter Dr Phil loses job over plan to stand for election in North East Somerset

A radio presenter has announced that he will stand against Jacob Rees-Mogg in the next general election – losing his job at the BBC just hours later.

Dr Phil Hammond, who has presented BBC Radio Bristol’s Saturday Surgery programme for 12 years, announced on Twitter on August 21 that he was “honoured” to have been selected as the National Health Action (NHA) Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset.

Dr Hammond said he was “sad and puzzled”, however, to be told the same day he was being immediately dismissed from his BBC role over concerns there would be a “conflict of interest”.

He said he had been previously advised by bosses that he would have to stand down during purdah – the period leading up to an election once a date has been announced – and had decided to declare his intention to stand as early as possible “to be completely open and transparent” as uncertainty surrounds the date of the next vote.

Dr Hammond, who qualified as a GP in 1991, said: “I strongly suspect whoever made this decision has never listened to any of my broadcasts. Such a sudden decision smells strongly of fear. There is no political bias on the Saturday Surgery, just three hours of health and happiness with some live music. I shall really miss the fantastic team at BBC Radio Bristol and all the loyal listeners. It’s been a hugely enjoyable 12 years.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “Impartiality is at the heart of our journalism. Active political involvement is an area covered by our editorial guidelines. Standing as a candidate in an election is a conflict of interest and someone seeking election is unable to continue in this type of editorial role.”

The NHA Party campaigns for better funding for the health service and against privatisation.

Dr Hammond said he had been inspired to stand in his home constituency after touring the UK with a comedy show and asking audiences their aspirations for the UK’s health service.

Conservative Jacob Rees- Mogg has been MP for North East Somerset since 2010, winning for the third time in 2017 with a 10,235-vote majority.