WATCH: Eric Sorensen reports on Leslie Roberts’ resignation from Global News.
TORONTO – Global Toronto news anchor Leslie Roberts has resigned, the news organization announced Thursday, following an investigation into serious allegations of conflict of interest.
The investigation was conducted in accordance with Global News Journalistic Principles and Practices and business conduct standards. Roberts publicly admitted last week that he was secretly part-owner of a public relations firm whose clients appeared on Global News programs. Mr. Roberts never disclosed his connection to Buzz PR to Global News management.
Following a meeting to inform staff of Roberts’ resignation, senior management sent this memo to Global News employees, which states:
“Leslie Roberts has resigned, effective immediately, from his position as Anchor and Executive Editor of Global Toronto, and co-host of The National Morning Show. In light of the findings of an internal investigation, conducted on the basis of our Business Conduct Standards and the Global News Journalistic Principles and Practices, Global News is satisfied with today’s outcome,” the statement read. “Global News remains committed to balanced and ethical journalism produced in the public’s interest. We will not be offering further comment at this time.”
Roberts’ suspension last Thursday preceded a Toronto Star report which detailed his relationship with Buzz PR, a company he co-founded with Kashif Khan.
Global News has made public Mr. Roberts’ letter of resignation.
“I am resigning my position as News Anchor and Executive Editor of Global Toronto effective immediately. I regret the circumstances, specifically a failure to disclose information, which led to this outcome.
Over the past 15 years, I have worked within a news organization and among colleagues who are the best in the business. For that privilege, I will always be grateful.
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Roberts acknowledged the appearance of conflict in his initial conversation with The Star, saying “I agree this doesn’t look very good.” However, he told The Star that he never directly accepted payment from a client to be a guest on any Global News program. He also told The Star he would resign from Buzz PR.
Ethical scandals involving high profile Canadian journalists have surfaced in the Canadian media landscape over the last year after investigative reporters revealed not only Roberts’ association with a PR firm, but also the actions of CBC personalities Peter Mansbridge and Amanda Lang.
Canadalandshow.com reported earlier this week that Lang tried to sabotage a colleague’s story about the use of temporary foreign workers by Royal Bank. The CBC said the allegations surrounding Lang were “categorically untrue.”
Canadaland also criticized Lang for interviewing RBC CEO Gordon Nixon without disclosing her personal relationship with an RBC board member, or her previous speaking engagements done at events where RBC was a sponsor. Lang told The Canadian Press that she disclosed the relationship to the public broadcaster in 2012, which determined an on-air disclosure before the interview wasn’t necessary.
Lisa Taylor, a Ryerson journalism professor, said in an interview with Global News last week after the allegations about Roberts’ arose that conflict of interest scandals damage not only his reputation but Global News’ journalists and the entire institution of journalism.
“What I get concerned about is what it does generally to the vocation of news, where we’ve already got a bit of crisis of confidence in journalism and it’s also really challenging for others at Global who are doing their jobs, doing their jobs well, doing their jobs in a way that there is no real or apparent conflict at all but they kind of get tarnished by the same brush,” she said.