BBC criticised for news story branding three Tory ministers 'Brexit champions'

PUBLISHED: 12:56 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:06 30 September 2019

(left to right) Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg  and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove on stage at the Conservative Party Conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

(left to right) Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove on stage at the Conservative Party Conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

The BBC has generated a new storm - this time over its story which brands three Tory MPs 'Brexit champions'.

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In a story posted on Sunday evening the corporation refers to cabinet ministers Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Barclay as "champions" in both the headline and in social media posts - sparking complaints of bias from the broadcaster.

While the online story does mention the protests outside the Manchester Central complex, it was the way it portrayed the three Brexiteers that readers objected to.

With more than 1,400 responses on Twitter alone, Remainer users of Twitter Twitter were quick to point out issues with the article.

The story was shared by the Brexit secretary as part of propaganda posted to the #CPC19 conference hashtag, as well as pro-Brexit pages including 'Get Britain Out'.

It follows the corporation provoking a furious backlash for reprimanding Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty after she called out racism from US president Donald Trump.

"Champions? And you lot claim to be unbiased," said Gary Gallachan.

"'Champions' — have they won anything?" tweeted Catio Miles.

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"Why isn't the word "champions" in quotes?" asked Freddie Johnson.

"Three Brexit champions. Wow. Not a quotation mark in sight. Pravda-esque," said @pickle1805.

"When did Conservative Home start writing your headlines?" pondered Twitter user Deb W.

"Imagine this headline. Labour conference: Three socialist champions hammer home Corbyn's message," said Mike Hind.

Liz Webster wrote back: "These men you call 'champions' lied and broke the law in an attempt to stymie parliament and enforce dictatorship."

But the BBC's editor of political programmes, Rob Burley, responded to criticism and defended the story.

He tweeted: "Brief note on headlines on BBC website. 1) don't shout at me about them as I don't work on the BBC website 2) quotation marks mean that somebody else said the words, they aren't the views of the BBC 3) bearing in mind 2) it's worth reading the actual story before commenting."

The journalist behind the story also gave her own take on the criticism on her Twitter feed.

She said: "Championing something doesn't make it right or mean someone is winning. It means they are pushing for something. And whatever side you are on, it cannot be denied this is what these three powerful people are doing."

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