Radio journalist harassed by female colleague told friends before killing himself ‘I loathe the BBC’
A radio journalist who killed himself after he claimed bosses ignored his complaints of bullying and sexual harassment by a female colleague texted friends weeks before his death saying: “I loathe the BBC,” it was revealed today.
Russell Joslin, 50, died on Monday afternoon after he was admitted to a mental health hospital following a failed suicide bid two days earlier.
The popular reporter had worked for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire since the mid-90s but ended up taking several months off work with mental health problems earlier this year.
Text messages sent from the broadcaster to a friend just 17 days before his suicide revealed his torment at being repeatedly ignored by his BBC bosses.
One of Russell’s texts, sent to a friend on October 5, said: “I have changed since I was ill, which I blame them [the BBC] for.
“I loathe the BBC, the entire mindset.”
The texts also show how he drew parallels with the current alleged BBC cover-up over former Radio One DJ Jimmy Savile’s sexual abuse.
He added: “Who could possibly believe (words removed) are sexual predators and the corporation sweeps allegations under carpet.
“I told you the (name removed) story? How she pestered me endlessly. I made a complaint. Ignored.”
In another text, sent to a friend in the media on October 11, Russell said: “(name removed) I am scared. I obviously cannot say anything.
“But will you keep in touch, please.”
His devastated father Peter, 78, a former Warwickshire chief constable, also has recordings left by his son revealing how a former female colleague had spoken to him.
Russell believed she had harassed and bullied him after he spurned her sexual advances.
Today it emerged the reporter recorded three messages from his female colleague after he left her in the restaurant.
The first says: “Thanks a lot, you’ve p***** on your chips. I’m trying to get a taxi to Coventry. Thanks for abandoning me.
“Don’t ever ever ever think of me as your mate again. Do what you have to at the BBC because you are a loser on 27 grand a year.
“But don’t ever ever encroach on me or my talent.”
Another says: “Hi, it’s me. I’m in a taxi from Kenilworth to Coventry. Russell, don’t ever count on me as a friend. I’m going home.
“Please don’t think you can rely on me – you’ve insulted me. You have left me stranded in Kenilworth.
“You are flaky, you are poor, you are weak. I don’t want anything to do with you except on the radio. Goodbye.”
The final message says: “Hi, it’s 9.21. I’m back at my car. Don’t ever ever ever presume friendship with me again, all right? Goodbye.”
Russell’s family and friends say he was “haunted” by the saga from the mid-2000s, and the anguish plagued him further this year.
Speaking from the family home in Kenilworth, Warks., dad Peter said: “Questions have to be asked by the BBC and not swept under the carpet.
“Mistakes should be looked at so they can be avoided in the future.
“It’s too late now to save my son. He complained at the time. Nothing was done.
“He recorded himself and (name withheld by us) and the threats she made to him. We have evidence word for word of exactly what was said.
“I had a visit from BBC regional official Cath Hearn on Wednesday. I got the impression they would have some kind of inquiry.
“It is something they should have done before, including a week ago when Russell went to see them.
“I’m used to death, having served on the murder squad but when it’s your own son it’s different.”
A coroner’s inquest was opened and adjourned yesterday after a post-mortem concluded he died of asphyxiation.
It is believed Russell jumped in front of a bus in Kenilworth’s main road on Saturday morning, and told ambulance workers he was trying to commit suicide.
He was taken to the mental health unit at St Michael’s, Warwick, where it’s thought he stuffed a plastic bag down his throat on Sunday afternoon. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 1.30pm on Monday.
The woman accused of harassing him is reported to have said there was never a complaint against her, despite Russell’s claim in his text messages.
She denies any wrong-doing, and claims she was asked by managers to try to help him.
The BBC said in a statement: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Russell Joslin’s family at this sad time. This is a difficult time for everyone who knew him.
“The BBC is committed to working constructively with the family to ensure that their concerns are vigourously addressed.
“It would not be appropriate to comment further until the facts are established.
“We have offered to hand Russell’s evidence in his text messages to the coroner and the police.”