BBC Overturns Naga Munchetty Ruling Over Donald Trump Comments

Director General Tony Hall steps in after backlash from colleagues.

BBC Director General Tony Hall has overturned a controversial complaint against presenter Naga Munchetty.

The BBC Breakfast journalist was found to have broken the broadcaster’s editorial guidelines after she criticised racist comments by Donald Trump.

But in an email to staff on Monday night, the BBC’s boss said that he had reviewed the ruling after being asked by “many” of the corporation’s employees.

Munchetty’s comments were only ever found to have broken BBC guidelines in a “limited way”, he wrote.

“But, in this instance, I don’t think Naga’s words were sufficient to merit a partial uphold of the complaint around the comments she made,” he said.

Munchetty was found to have broken BBC guidelines in the wake of Trump telling four American politicians to “go back” from where they came from in July.

Speaking about the story, the presenter told her co-host Dan Walker: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.

“Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”

Asked how she felt about the president using such language, Munchetty added: “Furious. Absolutely furious and I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that.”

The ruling comes on the same day the BBC confirmed that the original complaint had also included Walker’s input.

<strong>BBC Breakfast's Naga Munchetty </strong>
BBC Breakfast's Naga Munchetty
PA Wire/PA Images

However, the corporation insisted that the complainant had focussed on Munchetty in the final stage of the complaints process.

In a ruling delivered last week, the BBC complaints unit said that while the corporation’s journalists were allowed to give personal responses to certain stories, they were not permitted “to give their opinion about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so”.

The decision sparked a huge backlash, with more than 50,000 people signing a petition calling for the BBC to reverse its judgement.

In the letter to staff, Hall said the ruling had brought about “an important debate about racism and its interpretation”.

“Racism is racism and the BBC is not impartial on the topic. There was never a finding against Naga for what she said about the president’s tweet,” he said.

Hall added: “There was never any sanction against Naga and I hope this step makes that absolutely clear. She is an exceptional journalist and presenter and I am proud that she works for the BBC.

“I have asked the editorial and leadership teams to discuss how we manage live exchanges on air around these topics in the future. Our impartiality is fundamental to our journalism and is what our audiences expect of us.”