BBC Received Almost 24,000 Complaints Over Emily Maitlis' Dominic Cummings Speech

The corporation previously ruled that an episode of Newsnight focussing on the scandal had breached its impartiality guidelines.

The BBC received almost 24,000 complaints over an episode of Newsnight which centred around the Dominic Cummings lockdown row.

Last month, broadcaster Emily Maitlis opened the show with a speech addressing the backlash the government aide had received after it was revealed he’d taken a 260-mile trip to his parents’ house in Durham during lockdown.

Emily said at the time: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.

“The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us that we worked within them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.”

She continued: “He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of ‘elite’ on those who disagreed. He should understand that public mood one now: one of fury, contempt and anguish.

“He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them.”

Emily Maitlis on the set of Newsnight last month
Emily Maitlis on the set of Newsnight last month

However, while the speech received its share of praise on social media, it wasn’t without its controversies.

The following day, the BBC ruled that Emily’s comments breached their impartiality guidelines, with staff being sent a “reminder” about the broadcaster’s stance on neutrality.

It’s now been revealed that the corporation received a total of 23,674 complaints about the episode in question, from viewers who felt that Emily Maitlis showed “bias against Dominic Cummings and/or the government”.

The corporation added that the complaints came “after invitations to complain were posted online”.

Amid the controversy over her opening speech, Emily asked for “the night off” from Newsnight, with Katie Razzall taking her place on the episode that followed.

Katie insisted: “Just for the record, Emily Maitlis has not been asked by the BBC to take tonight off – and if I thought she had been, I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to present the show.”


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