The BBC has published numbers on how many staff email accounts it monitors for leaks

The BBC is sometimes described anecdotally as a “leaky ship” due to the level of confidential information about its inner workings making its way into the press.

Now, new figures show just how seriously the broadcaster takes the issue. The BBC has has admitted that it accessed or monitored the email accounts of 209 staff over the past three years, which represents around 1% of its workforce, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Some 39, or nearly 19%, of these accounts were monitored because of information leaking, which outnumbered other types of investigation. The BBC monitored 35 email accounts as it carried disciplinary proceedings, while 33 were examined as a result of fraud.

The remaining 102 investigations related to other issues, including “computer misuse” and a police inquiry, or the reasons for accessing the email accounts were not detailed.

The FOI data released by the BBC shows, however, that email monitoring has decreased significantly in the past year. Some 41 staff email accounts were accessed or monitored last year, less than half the 89 investigations that took place in 2014.

The BBC stressed that it only monitors emails when it is a necessary response. It added that staff are always notified if they are under investigation in this way prior to their account being accessed.

A spokesman for the broadcaster said: “The BBC rarely monitors staff email accounts and only in exceptional circumstances where it is reasonable, necessary and represents a proportionate response. Monitoring of email accounts is invariably undertaken in relation to criminal or disciplinary investigations and staff are aware that monitoring can occur.”

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