Fiona Bruce Steps Back From Domestic Abuse Charity After Question Time Row

She said stepping away as an ambassador was a "hard decision" and she would continue as a supporter of Refuge from the sidelines.
Fiona Bruce on Question Time
Fiona Bruce on Question Time

Fiona Bruce has stepped back as an ambassador of domestic abuse charity Refuge following claims she had trivialised domestic violence during a discussion about Stanley Johnson on Question Time.

The presenter of the BBC politics show faced a social media backlash after intervening when the 82-year-old father of former prime minister Boris Johnson was talked about on Thursday night.

In a statement given to the PA news agency, Bruce said that she was “required to legally contextualise” a response about Mr Johnson and the words are not an expression of her own opinions and she would never minimise domestic abuse.

The 58-year-old former newsreader added: “I know survivors of domestic abuse have been distressed by what I was required to say on-air. For that, I am deeply sorry.

“I cannot change what I was required to say, but I can apologise for the very real impact that I can see it has had.

“I have been a passionate advocate and campaigner for all survivors of domestic abuse, and have used my privileged position as a woman in the public eye to bring this issue to the fore, notably in my work for over 25 years with Refuge.

“But following the events of last week, I have faced a social media storm, much of which mischaracterised what I said and took the form of personal abuse directed at me.

“The only people that matter in all this are the survivors, they are my priority.”

Last week on Question Time, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said Mr Johnson’s alleged history of violence was “on record” and he was a “wife beater”.

Ms Bruce interrupted, telling journalist and panel member Ms Alibhai-Brown and the audience: “I’m not disputing what you’re saying, but just so everyone knows what this is referring to, Stanley Johnson’s wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and that she’d ended up in hospital as a result.

“Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen but it was a one-off.”

Bruce also said she did not want the issue to create a “distraction” for Refuge and it has been a “hard decision” to pause her work with the charity as she feels “so strongly” about tackling domestic abuse.

The Antiques Roadshow presenter added: “I will continue to be an active supporter, albeit from the sidelines for now.”

In a statement on Friday, the BBC said: “Domestic abuse is abhorrent, and we would never wish to suggest otherwise.

“When serious allegations are made on air against people or organisations, it is the job of BBC presenters to ensure that the context of those allegations – and any right of reply from the person or organisation – is given to the audience, and this is what Fiona Bruce was doing last night.

“She was not expressing any personal opinion about the situation.”


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