Mandelson claim banned on BBC

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The Independent Online
THE BBC has banned mention of Peter Mandelson's sexuality from its programmes. Anne Sloman, the BBC's chief political adviser, editorial policy, issued a memo to this effect last night to all controllers of radio and television programmes.

The memo states: "Please, will all programmes note that under no circumstances whatsoever should allegations about the private life of Peter Mandelson be repeated or referred to on any broadcast."

The decision comes three days after journalist Matthew Parris, the former Conservative MP, said on Newsnight: "Peter Mandelson is certainly gay." This was followed by Diane Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington saying on Question Time: "It is a matter of fact that Peter Mandelson is homosexual."

A BBC spokesman said the memo was part of producers' guidelines, and the decision had been made on grounds of protecting a person's privacy. The same action would be taken on the case of any individual. However, in an interview with MP Ron Davies yesterday, Glyn Mathias, the BBC's political editor for Wales, asked him four times whether he was gay.