BBC blames noise for Vote Leave inaccuracy during Question Time programme

PUBLISHED: 08:33 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:33 05 November 2019

A young audience member on BBC Question Time points out the allegations of wrongdoing in the Vote Leave campaign (left) but host Fiona Bruce dismissed them (right). Photograph: BBC.

A young audience member on BBC Question Time points out the allegations of wrongdoing in the Vote Leave campaign (left) but host Fiona Bruce dismissed them (right). Photograph: BBC.

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The BBC has issued a statement surrounding Question Time host Fiona Bruce wrongly clearing Vote Leave of wrongdoing during the EU referendum campaign.

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After reports initially claimed that the BBC would not be commenting, it has since issued comment on the misleading claims, which it blamed on the "noise" in the auditorium.

In last week's programme a young audience member reminded the panel: "We talk about whether a general election can solve Brexit I think actually we've actually forgotten that actually Vote Leave is accused of breaking electoral law."

To applause, she continued: "Dominic Cummings, currently an advisor to Boris Johnson and is in such a position of power, yet he refused to stand before parliament and talk about Brexit breaking the electoral law.

"I'm not sure whether we can ever have a free and democratic election before those issues are sorted out. I'm not sure we can solve Brexit in this way."

It led presenter Fiona Bruce to intervene, confusing matters by saying that Leave.EU had been cleared.

She told the young audience member: "I'm not entirely sure you're right about that".

The presenter continued: "No criminal charges were brought against them", again referring to the wrong campaign, before Brexiteer panellist Isabel Oakeshott went on to exonerate both Leave campaigns.

After calls for the BBC to apologise to the young audience member the broadcaster has issued a statement to "clear up any confusion".

"This was a genuine mistake which can occur in a debate style programme which is broadcast as live.

"The auditorium is noisier than it appears on the broadcast, and Fiona misheard the member of the audience who was sitting at the back, and who made a valid observation about Vote Leave.

"Fiona believed the audience member was referring to Leave.EU and her comments in relation to that were correct.

"We're happy to clear up any confusion and to make clear that the subsequent panel discussion did not refer to Vote Leave."

But the statement has left the young audience member unimpressed.

20-year-old Emily Edge tweeted that it was "a bit surreal" her comments resulted in a statement from the BBC.

While she said she was "pleased it has been acknowledged" by corporation, she went on to explain that she had "clearly referred to both Vote Leave and Dominic Cummings by name irrespective of what Fiona Bruce thought I said".

She added: "Isabel Oakshott said that *both* campaigns have been cleared of wrongdoing - yet she wasn't corrected?"

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