BBC News boss supports reprimand for Emily Maitlis because some backed Dominic Cummings

PUBLISHED: 09:33 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:00 12 June 2020

Emily Maitlis introduces BBC Newsnight with a summary of the government's reponse to the Dominic Cummings story. Photograph: BBC.

Emily Maitlis introduces BBC Newsnight with a summary of the government's reponse to the Dominic Cummings story. Photograph: BBC.

Archant

The BBC’s head of news has defended reprimanding Emily Maitlis for her monologue over Dominic Cummings - pointing to a poll showing a third of people still supported the prime minister’s aide.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.

Fran Unsworth defended the BBC’s ruling against the introduction on Newsnight which claimed Cummings had “broken the rules” and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot”.

Speaking during an online Royal Television Society lunchtime event on Thursday, Unsworth referenced a Reuters study which she said had found 30% of the public did not believe Cummings had done anything wrong.

She said: “Just because the majority of opinion is on side, and I absolutely accept they were, and that, as I say, was evidenced by the programme, it was the language with which the intro was phrased, which I felt basically belonged more on the op-ed page in a newspaper than it did as the intro to an impartial broadcast programme.”

Unsworth also disagreed with Maitlis’ assertio that Cummings owed his survival to Johnson’s “blind loyalty”, saying: “I don’t think we can attribute motivation in that way.”


Have your say

Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing letters@theneweuropean.co.uk and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.


She said that, following the incident, she had had a “a robust discussion” with the Newsnight team.

You may also want to watch:

However, she added: “I just want to say though that I think that Newsnight has had an absolutely brilliant journalistic run over this pandemic, and have really been on the stories.”

The day after the Newsnight broadcast, the BBC released a statement saying the introduction did not meet its standards of due impartiality and that staff had been “reminded of the guidelines”.

Asked why she stepped in, she said: “Because I was acting on what I believed was the case, that it went further than the editorial guidelines allowed us to do.

“I felt, why would I wait for somebody else to make a judgment which I had already made for myself.

“I didn’t need to wait for some complaints process to take its course here, if actually I felt that the introduction had gone slightly beyond what I felt was appropriate in terms of what our editorial guidelines are.”

Unsworth spoke hours before the BBC released a report which showed that it had received 23,674 complaints over the episode.

The complaints were made on the grounds that viewers felt the programme showed “bias against Dominic Cummings and/or the government”.

A petition in support of the presenter received more than 135,000 signatures.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £20

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest pro-European campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.