THE BBC has issued a lacklustre response to complaints over a clear breach of impartiality rules by journalist Laura Kuenssberg.
Mass outrage erupted after Kuenssberg published an article via the BBC’s news website last month, in which she made numerous defamatory and unsubstantiated claims in an apparent attempt to manipulate public opinion during the local elections.
The BBC, as a taxpayer-funded broadcaster, sets-out the following clear rule for its journalists: “If your work requires you to maintain your impartiality, don’t express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or ‘controversial subjects’.”
In the article, which many considered to be the final straw, Laura embarked on a full-scale attack against the PM, riddling her piece with dubious and anonymous ‘sources’, before making countless personal accusations, in clear breach of the BBC’s impartiality rules.
Not only did she make a false claim about the VoteLeave campaign, but also said: “Boris Johnson’s reputation and popularity is certainly not based on a view that he tells the truth”.
“…the prime minister’s attitude to the truth and facts is not based on what is real and what is not, but is driven by what he wants to achieve in that moment – what he desires, rather than what he believes.”
“In other words, ordering the truth to suit his ambitions” she went on to reference Apple founder Steve Jobs “… sound familiar?”
These were just some of many opinions given by Kuenssberg in the smear piece.
Speaking to VoteWatch, Conservative stalwart and former MEP David Bannerman said: “It is not personal to hold journalists to electoral rules in a highly sensitive electoral period; it’s sensible procedure. There are good reasons why the rules are there – to stop one sided media stories effecting electoral results.”
The nation seemed to share Bannerman’s sentiments, with thousands taking to social media, getting ‘#LauraKuenssberg’ trending on Twitter, and sharing screenshots of confirmation from the BBC that their complaints had been received.
VoteWatch also raised a complaint, and issued a stinging condemnation against the BBC’s clear lack of impartiality.
Yet today, we received the following response:
“Thank you for getting in touch about our article ‘Boris Johnson: What is the PM’s relationship with the truth?’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56624437) and please accept our apologies for the delay in our response.
“Laura’s analysis was topical in the wake of Labour accusing the Prime Minister of lying.
“After the article was published different readers got in touch to argue alternatively that it was biased for or against the Prime Minister.
“We stand by the journalism, which was very well sourced and included a range of views on the Prime Minister’s approach to the truth.”
“This is a demonstrable lie. Not only does the article not name a single source, but – as anyone reading the article can see – a ‘range of views’ were not included.
“The BBC’s response also fails to address the key point made in the complaint – that Laura Kuenssberg herself made unfounded, personal comments about the Prime Minister, directly breaching the BBC’s own impartiality rules.”
VoteWatch will now be referring the matter to OFCOM and will update in due course.