Emily Maitlis ‘failed to meet BBC impartiality rules’ on Newsnight Dominic Cummings report

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It said staff had been “reminded of the guidelines” following Miss Maitlis’s controversial remarks, which sparked complaints to regulator Ofcom. The fresh impartiality row erupted after an introduction by Maitlis accused Boris Johnson’s top adviser Mr Cummings of breaking lockdown rules by driving his family from London to Durham.

Maitlis, 49, then slammed the Prime Minister for his “blind loyalty” to his chief strategist.

Mr Cummings, 48, has denied any wrongdoing.

He says he became concerned for the safety of his four-year-old son when he and his wife Mary Wakefield developed apparent COVID-19 symptoms.

During her opening remarks on the BBC Two show, Maitlis said Mr Cummings had “broken the rules” and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot”.

Mr Cummings, she said, “was the man, remember, who always ‘got’ the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of ‘elite’ on those who disagreed”.

Maitlis said: “He should understand that public mood now. One of fury, contempt and anguish.

“He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them.”

The presenter then said the programme would be considering what Mr Johnson’s “blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10”.

A clip of the monologue posted on the BBC Politics Twitter feed was later deleted amid an angry backlash.

Maitlis later interviewed two politicians who called for Mr Cummings to quit and Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who supported him.

Mr Bridgen said yesterday: “There was no pretence of impartiality in any of that report. It was judge, jury and executioner.”

He said he had faced a “three against one” situation during the broadcast and was the only person Miss Maitlis interrupted.

The BBC statement said: “While we believe the programme contained fair reasonable and rigorous journalism, we feel that we should have done more to make clear the introduction was a summary of the questions we would examine, with all the accompanying evidence, in the rest of the programme.

“As it was we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality. Our staff have been reminded of the guidelines.”

The corporation would not comment on the number of complains it received.

Former Labour MP Kate Hoey was among the complainants.

She tweeted: “Understand that the BBC is being inundated with complaints about Emily Maitlis and Newsnight from last night. I have also put in a complaint and am sure many, many more will.”

A viewer posted: “What a totally disgraceful speech from Emily Maitlis and the BBC Newsnight editorial team.

“Ofcom need to step in because the BBC are clearly breaking their own charter. This in nasty and not at all unbiased or impartial.”

Another said: “This is a presenter’s opinion and using her position to give her viewpoint. We deserve as taxpayers to have impartial broadcasters.”

The BBC Charter requires the corporation “to do all we can to ensure controversial subjects are treated with due impartiality in our news and other output”.

Corporation guidelines state: “The BBC Agreement forbids our output from expressing the opinion of the BBC on current affairs or matters of public policy.”

Earlier this month the Government complained to the BBC over a controversial Panorama investigation into personal protective equipment for health workers.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned the BBC that it risked losing the public’s confidence after it was revealed five medical professionals featured in the programme were Left-wing activists.

Mr Dowden urged BBC director general Tony Hall to “uphold the highest standards in relation to integrity and impartiality”.

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