Question Time host wrongly clears Vote Leave of law breaking allegations

PUBLISHED: 19:52 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 20:01 01 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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BBC newsreader and presenter Fiona Bruce has been criticised for suggesting that Vote Leave had been cleared of any wrongdoing surrounding the EU referendum.

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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 panelist Isabel Oakeshott provided assurance.

Oakeshott said: "The vast majority of allegations about both Leave campaigns were found to be completely unfounded. This was propaganda".

Brexiteer Tory MP Paul Scully added: "I think you'll find some Remain groups were fined as well".

The intervention sparked fury on social media from campaigners who had fought for Vote Leave to face prosecution.

Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni tweeted: "Oh my fucking god. They're not even trying to hide it anymore! This audience member recalls Vote Leave breaking electoral law and Fiona Bruce literally lies saying 'they were cleared of those accusations'. I feel fucking sick."

Lib Dem MP and Brexit spokesperson Thomas Brake wrote: "Disappointing to see Fiona Bruce wrongly assert that Vote Leave was cleared. The audience member on Question Time last night was correct. Whether it's poor briefing or lack of care, the BBC has work to do to ensure untruths do not go unchallenged."

Viewer Ian Fraser asked: "Why did Fiona Bruce slap down the woman who said UK will struggle to have a free+fair election as Vote Leave broke electoral law and Johnson adviser Dominic Cummings is in contempt of parliament? Both claims are 100% true. Bruce owes her an apology".

The comments came hours before it was revealed that the Met Police had handed a file surrounding Vote Leave to prosecutors for further legal advice.

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