Commentator claims BBC executives think 'it's wrong to expose PM's lies'

PUBLISHED: 12:40 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:15 20 November 2019

Boris Johnson in 'get Brexit done' gloves. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Boris Johnson in 'get Brexit done' gloves. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

A former Brexiteer and Conservative political commentator has claimed the media is to blame for letting Boris Johnson get away "with deceit with such ease" and that BBC executives are complicit in this.

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Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph's former chief political commentator, was a staunch Brexiteer and long-time supporter of the Conservatives - but now backs Remain.

In a column for the Guardian, Oborne said: "I have been a political reporter for almost three decades and have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.

"Some of the lies are tiny [...] But many are big. Johnson repeatedly claims that Britain's continued membership of the EU costs an extra £1bn a month. False. He told activists that the Tories were building a new hospital in the marginal seat of Canterbury. False - and shockingly cynical.

"He told Michael Crick that during the EU referendum campaign, 'I didn't make remarks about Turkey, mate.' He did."

Oborne suggested it is the media - specifically naming the BBC - who do not do enough to challenge these lies.

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Oborne even claims that "senior BBC executives [...] tell me they personally think it's wrong to expose lies told by a British prime minister because it undermines trust in British politics. Is that a reason for giving Johnson free rein to make any false claim he wants?"

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Elsewhere in the article, Oborne suggests "treating all politicians as liars gives a licence for the total collapse of integrity of British politics" and "the British media is not holding him to account for his repeated falsehoods" adding "it's time we journalists did our job".

In response the TV critic Toby Early said this was an "astonishing line" and Mike Berners-Lee said: "Whatever any of our political leanings we all have a duty to avoid voting for a party that has allowed a known serial liar to be its leader. And to detune from media that fails to call it out."

Labour candidate for Cardiff Central Jo Stevens said: "Political lying is a form of theft. It means that voters make democratic judgments on the basis of falsehoods. Their rights are stripped away. It's not just Boris Johnson lying. It's that the media let him get away with it."

The BBC have been contacted for comment.

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