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Nick Robinson Defends BBC Interview With Jeremy Corbyn After Diane Abbott Criticises Questioning

11/01/2016 15:29 GMT | Updated 11/01/2016 15:59 GMT

Veteran BBC journalist Nick Robinson has delivered a swift admonishment to Diane Abbott, the shadow frontbencher who complained about his quizzing of Jeremy Corbyn.

The BBC Radio 4 Today presenter, who stepped down as the Corporation's political editor in 2015, had probed Corbyn earlier in the day over major splits in his cabinet after a spate of resignations last week.

"I think you’re creating a crisis that doesn’t exist," the Labour leader had told Robinson.

"In any event the whole decision that you’re putting is four and a half years away – let’s instead have a serious, intelligent debate.

Soon after the exchange, Abbott weighed in with a fierce retort, praising Corbyn's delivery but lambasting the treatment given to him.

"Good performance by Jeremy Corbyn on BBC Radio 4 'Today' despite Nick Robinson's frantic efforts to put words into his mouth," she posted on social media on Monday morning.

After the programme came off-air Robinson hit back in an attempt to hold his own.

He defended the interview, saying "They're called questions, Diane."

Robinson pointed out that Corbyn had more than 15 minutes to answer them and put his case to listeners, adding that the Labour leader had "seemed happy afterwards".

During the interview, Corbyn had been forced to clarify he was “not in favour of terrorism”, denying having sacked a Shadow Minister for suggesting he was sympathetic to extremist justifications for attacks in the aftermath of the Paris atrocities.

When Pat McFadden was dumped from the Europe brief last week, Corbyn’s advisers pointed to remarks he made at Prime Minister’s Questions where the MP warned against blaming terrorism on the actions of the West - claiming that “risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children”.

The comments were seen as a reference to a post on the Stop the War campaign group’s website claiming Paris “reaped whirlwind of Western extremism”. Corbyn has been a long-standing supporter of the group, which swiftly removed the offending article.

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Speaking on Monday, though, the Islington MP said: "Of course the French government are not responsible for the attacks on the streets of Paris any more than any other government was from the West.

"But I would just say, listen very carefully to the analysis that President Obama gave of the situation in the Middle East when he said we’ve got to think long and hard about the longer-term effects of both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq about what that does."