Emily Maitlis has been replaced as presenter of Newsnight on Wednesday evening after bosses reprimanded the host for a monologue about Dominic Cummings breaking lockdown rules.
Presenter Emily Maitlis opened the latest show by saying the prime minister’s chief adviser had ‘broken the rules’ and ‘the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot’.
In the Newsnight opening, Maitlis said: ‘The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us he worked within the rules, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.
‘He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of elite on those who disagreed.
‘He should understand that public mood now – one of fury, contempt and anguish.’
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The BBC said in a statement that staff had been ‘reminded of the guidelines’ following the broadcast as the comments ‘did not meet our standards of due impartiality’.
In its response to the broadcast, the BBC said it must ‘uphold the highest standards of due impartiality in its news output’.
The statement added: ‘We’ve reviewed the entirety of last night’s Newsnight, including the opening section, and 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.’
Reports claim Maitlis has been replaced by Katie Razzall as host of Wednesday’s episode, but a spokesperson denied she had been stopped from appearing.
They added that they have ‘not prevented Emily from presenting’ the programme.
Razzall tweeted herself she would not be presenting the programme if Maitlis was stopped from appearing.
Keith Brown, SNP deputy leader, said: ‘This statement is a gutless capitulation by BBC bosses. Newsnight should be commended – not slapped down – for their serious investigative work on Cummings, that’s not something you could say about the BBC News at 10.
‘Pandering to 10 Downing Street by curbing journalists from being able to hold the UK government to account is of serious concern.’
‘It’s ironic that the only apology over the whole Dominic Cummings lockdown breaches scandal comes from the BBC,’ added an SNP spokesperson.
Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan branded the BBC statement ‘utterly disgraceful’, adding the corporation was ‘chucking one of its best journalists under the bus for telling the truth’.
Former Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason, who said that the decision made him ‘sick’.
He tweeted: ‘Every word Maitlis said was true: truth is the criterion of real journalism.’