The BBC has issued an apology following public backlash to a clip which edited out the audience’s reaction to a question put to Boris Johnson.
A newsreel summarising clips from Friday’s two-hour Question Time election special, edited out a derisive audience reaction when the prime minister was asked how the public can trust him.
The editorial decision prompted a massive online backlash, causing the corporation initially to defend it as a means of saving time.
The unedited moment shows an audience member asking the prime minister: “How important is it for someone in your position of power to always tell the truth?” – a question that raised both laughter and applause from the crowd.
But in the newsreel for BBC’s Saturday lunchtime bulletin, the laughter was gone, sparking a Twitter furore and, by Monday, 46 complaints to Ofcom.
Statement on the BBC's use of an edited clip from the Question Time Leaders' special: pic.twitter.com/OiBcidy3ZH— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) November 25, 2019
One of these came from the Liberal Democrats, who said the corporation had “doctored” the clip.
However the BBC News press team has now issued a statement saying that this was a “mistake” although there had been no intention to mislead.
The press office statement said: “The clip from the BBC’s Question Time special, which was played in full on the News at Ten on Friday evening and on other outlets, was shortened for timing reasons on Saturday’s lunchtime bulletin, to edit out a repetitious phrase from Boris Johnson. However, in so doing we also edited out laughter from the audience. Although there was absolutely no intention to mislead, we accept that this was a mistake on our part, as it didn’t reflect the full reaction to Boris Johnson’s answer. We did not alter the soundtrack or image in any way apart from this edit, contrary to some claims on social media.”