BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker has admitted he felt he should have spoken out in support of his fellow presenter Naga Munchetty after the corporation ruled she had breached their guidelines around impartiality.
Naga was found to have broken the BBC’s editorial guidelines after she criticised racist comments by Donald Trump – a decision that was eventually overturned by BBC Director General Tony Hall following a backlash to the original ruling.
In an interview with Radio Times, her co-presenter has now said he wanted to speak up for her, but chose not to on Naga’s request.
“I asked her at the time if she wanted me to speak about it. She was at the centre of this storm,” he said.
“I felt I should have said something in support of her, but she didn’t want any more attention.”
Dan went on to criticise the BBC for not giving “a more robust defence of their presenters”.
“We do think it could have been dealt with very differently,” he said.
“It was the right decision to overturn the original finding, but it didn’t need to get that far. Both of us felt we sailed near the line but we didn’t cross it.”
In the broadcast last July, Naga had said that “every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism”, adding: “I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”
Defending Naga’s comments, Dan described criticism of the US president as “telling”, adding:“Breakfast isn’t the 10 o’clock news.
“We are there to share a bit of ourselves, and maybe we shared a bit too much. At the time it felt a very natural conversation.
“We knew in that moment that it was different to the sort of things we usually talk about. But I don’t regret it, and I don’t think Naga does either.”
He added that following the incident, he wrote to Lord Hall saying: “If Naga is guilty, then I’m guilty.”
The full interview appears in this week’s Radio Times, on sale now.