UK

BBC Bias Open Letter Sent To Director General Tony Hall

Labour and the Lib Dems have both defended the broadcaster.

21/03/2017 12:59 GMT | Updated 21/03/2017 14:42 GMT

More than 70 MPs have signed an open letter accusing the BBC of bias in its coverage of Brexit.

In a letter to director general Tony Hall, the group, led by Tory MP Julian Knight, said it “pains us to see how so much of the economic good news we’ve had since June has been skewed by BBC coverage which seems unable to break out of pre-referendum pessimism and accept new facts.”.

It added: “We fear that, by misrepresenting our country either as xenophobic or regretful of the Leave vote, the BBC will undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country.”

The BBC has been accused of bias in its Brexit coverage

The BBC hit back at the claims in a statement, saying: “While we are always live to our critics and understand that passions are running high on all sides of the debate, it is the job of the BBC to scrutinise and analyse the issues on behalf of the public and to hold politicians to account across the political spectrum.

“That is what the BBC has been doing. It is what the BBC will continue to do.

“It is precisely because of this, that the public trusts the BBC.”

We’ve gathered some moments showing the BBC’s bias against the Leave side at its worst…

1. This time Nigel Farage wasn’t allowed to talk about how good Brexit was

BBC

2. This time Nigel Farage was kept quiet while appearing alongside pro-Remainer Gina Miller

BBC

3. This time Nigel Farage wasn’t allowed to talk about the “easy” outcomes of Brexit

BBC

4. This time Nigel Farage wasn’t allowed to defend Brexit against claims of links with hate crime

BBC

5. This time Nigel Farage’s insistence on the following through of the referendum result wasn’t covered

BBC

6. This time Nigel Farage’s speech about Europe wasn’t covered

BBC

7. This time Nigel Farage’s referendum victory speech was hushed up

BBC

8. This time Nigel Farage wasn’t allowed to talk about why Brexit would be good

BBC

9. And this time Nigel Farage wasn’t able to voice his opinion on the outcome of the referendum

BBC

The letter’s signatories were predominantly made up of Tories - but both Labour and the Lib Dems hit back at the claims as well as a number of other prominent commentators. 

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said: ”The BBC is one of the world’s finest news broadcasters and we should all value its impartiality, integrity and balanced coverage. It is the BBC’s job to report the facts, not to be a cheerleader for any cause or party.

“All politicians sometimes dislike the way some stories are covered, but we should never seek to interfere with the independence of the BBC by publicly accusing it of bias and making implicit threats about its future.

“Theresa May and Karen Bradley must make clear their commitment to the independence of the BBC and distance themselves from attacks on it by politicians who have an agenda the BBC does not and should not share.”

The Lib Dems went as far as to liken the letter to the behaviour of Donald Trump

The party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake said: “This Trump style attack on the BBC is an appallingly anti-democratic move by the hard Brexit camp.

“The BBC does not exist to be a cheerleader of the government, and instead of attacking free speech these MPs should be holding Theresa May to account over her headlong rush into a hard, destructive Brexit.

“Press freedom is vital to our democracy, and pointless attacks like this further expose a worrying, authoritarian streak in May’s Tory party.”