BBC bosses say Emily Maitlis’ criticism of the Newsnight affair is ‘totally false’

BBC bosses disagreed with Emily Maitlis’ comments following her recent criticism of the way the company handled her Newsnight speech about Dominic Cummings.

aitlis, 52, joined the BBC in 2001 and presented Newsnight from 2006 until earlier this year when she left the broadcaster for rival media group Global.

Last month, she presented MacTaggart’s Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, where she criticized the BBC’s response to the 2020 section of Newsnight, in which she opened the episode by saying that Dominic Cummings, then the chief adviser to Boris Johnson, “broke the rules” with a lockdown trip to Durham and “the country can see that, and shockingly the Government can’t”.


BBC Director General Tim Davie (Hannah McKay/PA)

In her address to an audience in Edinburgh, Maitlis said the BBC “tried to appease” Number 10 by quickly issuing an apology for her monologue and she said she felt the same way. Its introduction received “more attention than it really deserves”.

Group general manager Tim Davie said while he considered her an “excellent journalist”, he disagreed with her criticism of the BBC’s handling of Cummings’ monologue.

Appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee on Tuesday, he said political interference in the BBC and the process Newsnight made its decision to apologize for her speech Those are two separate things.

The broadcaster, which received more than 20,000 complaints and alleges Maitlis violated its fairness rules, said in a statement: “We believe the intro we broadcast did not meet our standards. me about fairness.”

Mr Davie said he stood by Newsnight’s decision, adding: “In terms of Newsnight, the BBC is very clear, by the way, that it stands by the decision they made. I was not the general manager at the time, but I think it was absolutely the right, definitive decision.”

He later added: “Emily is an excellent journalist, I respect her opinion but we disagree on this.”


BBC President Richard Sharp (DCMS/PA)

Speaking before him during the DCMS session, BBC president Richard Sharp said Maitlis was “utterly wrong” to suggest that “valid process had not been followed”.

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He said: “I was at the MacTaggart Lecture and so I found her lecture where she raised this… extremely interesting. And she’s dealing with a very important issue, which is a global issue of how news can operate in an environment of increased political tension.

“Obviously she drew certain issues concerning the US and then she passed on her comments to the BBC. It is worth mentioning that, in order not to misunderstand, Tim was not the general manager at the time, I was not the chairman of the BBC at the time.

“But obviously, I am familiar with the processes in detail. So I can say that while I thought the issues she raised were worthwhile and very good, she was completely wrong when she said the resolution process was not followed.”

“I think maybe in my mind that also reflects the fact that I disagree with her views on fairness, which could mean she could lead with the opinion own and obey the truth.

“The issues surrounding why both we and Ofcom later found out that we had properly addressed the issue was because she led with her opinion and with as a great journalist, it’s not her instincts that are wrong, the point is that the BBC does what it does, which is we have to provide the truth objectively to the audience and allow they draw their own opinions”.


Robbie Gibb (right) with former Chief Julian Smith (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In an apparent reference to Theresa May’s former communications director, Sir Robbie Gibb, in a speech at MacTaggart, Maitlis said: “Put this in the context of the BBC Board of Directors, where there is a staff member Another Conservative member – a former Downing Street shooting doctor and former BBC rival adviser GB News – is now sitting, acting as the BBC’s fairness umpire. “

Mr Davie said Sir Robbie’s role in the BBC was that of a board member and he felt that everyone on the board should support him and the executive teams to bring about fairness.

He told the DCMS session: “I think that everyone who comes to the BBC, on the board, puts the BBC first and supports me personally and the executive teams to bring justice to it. “.

When discussing Sir Robbie’s previous liking of a tweet described by a DCMS Committee member as “partisan politically”, Mr Sharp said that non-executives should “seek to avoid getting involved in controversial matters”, but qualifies them as not required.

He added: “I would like non-moderators to refrain from tweeting about controversial or partisan issues.”

Mr Sharp added that he had been told that Sir Robbie did not in fact like the tweet in question but that he had accidentally pressed the “like” button while scrolling through his Twitter feed.

The chairman also said that Maitlis’ appearance to describe Sir Robbie as an “active agent of the Conservative Party” in the BBC was “completely false” and that he was “disappointed”, the former BBC presenter put it. that point of view. BBC bosses say Emily Maitlis’ criticism of the Newsnight affair is ‘totally false’

Fry Electronics Team

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