Backlash as BBC announces Julia Hartley-Brewer on Question Time panel

Julia Hartley-Brewer on BBC Question Time. Photograph: BBC.

Julia Hartley-Brewer on BBC Question Time. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

There has been a backlash to the announcement that Julia Hartley-Brewer will be appearing on the latest edition of Question Time - with some calling for a boycott of the show.

The furore follows accusations from legal expert and anti-Brexit campaigner Jolyon Maugham, who accused the Brexiteer of publishing the address of his family home on social media.

In a post that has been liked more than 20,000 times since the announcement came out, Maugham said that the move to include the talkRADIO presenter was "absolutely despicable".

She said: "A fortnight after Hartley-Brewer published the address of my family home, in a week in which she knew I had received death threats, our notional public service broadcaster puts her on its flagship. Shame on it. Shame on it."

But Hartley-Brewer has defended herself, tweeting that Maugham's claims were wrong.

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She said: "I didn't. I mocked his pomposity in a tweet that linked to a newspaper interview he did boasting about his home."

She continued: "Other people had already tweeted this same link to him, which was easily available on Google after a cursory 30 second search, as was the interview he did with the BBC all about his home giving its precise address, along with the two magazine interviews, all available online."

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She added: "Oh, and Jolyon happily publicised *my* home address when he tweeted out the company accounts of prominent Brexiteer journalists earlier this year, forcing me to change my registered address for my family's security. So those are the facts - feel free to make up your own mind."

But one BBC insider claimed Maugham's tweets had seen a significant spike in complaints ahead of the recording - but only those made on the telephone or using its web form would see their views counted.

Some Twitter users called for the programme to be boycotted using the hashtag #boycottBBCQT, but these messages would not be taken into account.

One tweeted: "Julia Hartley-Brewer is a climate-change denier who regularly mocks Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl with Asperger's. Why are you giving this awful woman a platform to air her bigotry and crackpot views on #bbcqt, particularly on #WorldMentalHealthDay2019?"

Elinor Elliot wrote: "Why has BBCQT asked Hartley-Brewer to appear but never Jolyon Maugham? He was one of the claimants in the Supreme Court case, and recently in the Scottish Court of Session case. His views are far more relevant than those of this hatemongering hack."

Professor Tanja Bueltmann asked: "How dare you put Hartley-Brewer on your programme after she revealed @JolyonMaugham's home address following him getting death threats? Is this the new role of the national broadcaster—give platforms to those willing to risk someone's death to score some likes on Twitter? "

But others defended the corporation's decision to include the broadcaster.

"It's totally fine to disagree with Julia Hartley-Brewer. But if you woke up and decided to try and get her removed from the airwaves by participating in a shrill online mob made up of people who hate her, you might be more censorious and less liberal than you think you are," said @theposhgent.

Jeremy Randall tweeted: "No platforming people is denial of freedom of speech. That is the real fascism. Woke fools like you have to listen to points of view you disagree with in a free world. If you only like 1 side of the argument, I highly recommend China."

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

- A full list of the guests appearing on tonight's programme can be found here.

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