BBC issues apology to Priti Patel saying it now accepts smirk is her ‘natural expression’

Priti Patel appears to smirk during a discussion about business fears. Photograph: BBC.

Priti Patel appears to smirk during a discussion about business fears. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

The BBC has issued an apology to the home secretary after presenter Andrew Marr claimed she was 'laughing' about the impact of Brexit on business.

Marr told Patel he "couldn't see why" Priti Patel was "laughing" as he read out a list of UK firms who had raised concerns about Boris Johnson's Brexit proposals.

Patel did not react to the claims on-air and social media users were divided on whether or not Patel had actually laughed.

But many were appalled she appeared to be smirking during the debate.

Peter Stefanovic wrote in a viral tweet: "'I can't see why you're laughing' says Andrew Marr to Home Secretary Priti Patel as she smirks whilst he reads out the manufacturing industries dire warnings on her government's Brexit proposals".

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Tory MP Nadim Zahawi insisted that the minister had not laughed, claiming: "She is neither smiling or laughing. I guess some people are so incensed at the thought of a [government] that is upholding the democratic will of the people, they are willing to use any means necessary to demonise its ministers."

Now, following a backlash from Brexiteers, the BBC has acknowledged this was now her "natural expression".

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The broadcaster said in a statement: "Guests who appear on the Andrew Marr show expect robust interviewing that includes back and forth between themselves and Mr Marr.

"Andrew Marr commented on Priti Patel laughing after he glanced up while reading a list of business leaders concerned about the impact of Brexit on their industries.

MORE: Priti Patel told off for 'laughing' during discussion about business Brexit fears

"He thought he saw the Home Secretary smile but now accepts this was, in fact, her natural expression and wasn't indicating amusement at his line of questioning.

"There was no intention to cause offence and we are sorry if viewers felt this to be the case."

The apology comes after the BBC declined to act on feedback from viewers of Politics Live, who complained that Brexiteer guest Brendan O'Neill had incited riots during his comments in a recent programme.

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