The BBC has been criticised after it emerged it arranged for shadow foreign affairs minister Stephen Doughty to quit live on air.
The Labour minister dramatically resigned on the BBC’s Daily Politics show moments before the start of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
Mr Doughty was one of three shadow ministers to step down following the sacking of Europe spokesman Pat McFadden, who had criticised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “soft” stance on terrorism.
In a blog post for the BBC’s Journalism Academy - which has since been deleted - the output editor for the programme, Andrew Alexander, explained how Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg had “sealed the deal” for Mr Doughty to exclusively break his resignation live on air.
But critics on Twitter have claimed this is a sign of the Corporation’s right wing “bias” and have accused it of “engineering the news”.
The BBC engineering the news here, instead of reporting them. Absolutely unethical, disgusting and shameless. https://t.co/jt0wee3udt— Nico Fanget (@Nicovel0) January 7, 2016
@BBC it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to withdraw my licence fee, at least until you sort out your obvious political bias. Ta— Sie Evans (@noisymedia) January 8, 2016
Others said as the state broadcaster the BBC should not be helping Mr Doughty “maximise the political impact” of his resignation by doing it on television directly before PMQs.
Mr Doughty said on the programme that he had “looked at his own conscience” and had decided to step down as he believed the leader’s office had told “lies” about Mr McFadden’s dismissal.
In pictures: Jeremy Corbyn reshuffle
In pictures: Jeremy Corbyn reshuffle
1/11 Jonathan Reynolds,Shadow Railways Minister: RESIGNED
He resigned as shadow railways minister in protest at the reasons for sacking Pat McFadden
2/11 Kevan Jones, Shadow Defence Minister: RESIGNED
He resigned as a shadow defence minister who strongly supports renewal of Trident. Has spoken out against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership before and was also the centre of a row with Ken Livingstone after he said Jones “might need some psychiatric help” (Jones has previously spoken about his struggle with depression)
3/11 Stephen Doughty, Shadow Foreign Minister: RESIGNED
He quit as a shadow foreign minister in protest at the sacking of his colleague Pat McFadden as shadow Europe minister. He said he had “looked at his own conscience” and decided to step down
4/11 Pat McFadden, Shadow Europe Minister: SACKED
He was sacked as shadow Europe minister for "disloyalty" to leader Jeremy Corbyn
5/11 Pat Glass, Shadow Europe Minister: SAFE
Former junior shadow education minister Pat Glass replaced Pat McFadden as shadow Europe minister
6/11 Emily Thornberry, Shadow Defence Secretary: SAFE
She was promoted to shadow defence secretary. She is anti-Trident and therefore more in tune with Corbyn’s stance and replaces Maria Eagle, who was pro-Trident
7/11 Emma Lewell-Buck, Shadow Minister for Devolution and Local Government: SAFE
Emma Lewell-Buck was promoted to shadow minister for devolution and local government
8/11 Michael Dugher, Shadow Culture Secretary: SACKED
Outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, has been sacked as shadow culture secretary for his "incompetence and disloyalty"
9/11 Hilary Benn, Shadow Foreign Secretary: SAFE
Hilary Benn remains as shadow foreign secretary, but Corbyn’s team has insisted his role now comes with ‘new conditions’ that he must agree with Corbyn over foreign policy. Benn insists there are no ‘new conditions’ attached to his job and insisted: "I haven't been muzzled. I'm going to be carrying on doing my job exactly as before”
10/11 Maria Eagle, Shadow Culture Secretary: SAFE
Maria Eagle, moved from shadow defence to shadow culture secretary as part of Corbyn’s move to make his defence team match his anti-Trident views
11/11 Andy Burnham, Shadow Home Secretary: SAFE
Reports linked him to foreign secretary brief, but Corbyn appears to have backed down on sacking Hilary Benn. He does not see eye-to-eye with Corbyn on home affairs such as the Snooper’s charter, but removing your shadow home secretary so soon after starting would have been a dangerous move by Corbyn
The BBC defended its decision saying Mr Doughty had “already decided to resign and willingly chose to make his announcement on the programme”.
In a statement it said: "The shadow cabinet reshuffle was a major story this week and many MPs from all camps had strong opinions which were fairly reflected across BBC output".
Mr Doughty also rushed to the organisation’s defence, saying he had already told friends he was about to resign and agreed to do so on the BBC before he could “get smeared by the same people who attacked [the] colleague I resigned over”.
1. I decided to resign over sacking of colleague + him being smeared. 2. I tell my boss + close friends. 3. Lots of journalists ring me.— Stephen Doughty (@SDoughtyMP) January 8, 2016
4. I answer phone to one senior journalist who asks am I resigning? 5. I say yes but worried about smears + lies about reasons.— Stephen Doughty (@SDoughtyMP) January 8, 2016
6. Am asked if I will do interview on TV to explain my reasons without spinners getting in first. I say yes. 7. I write to Jeremy to say.— Stephen Doughty (@SDoughtyMP) January 8, 2016
8. I do interview and confirm reasons. 9. I get smeared by same people who attacked colleague I resigned over. 10. Point made.— Stephen Doughty (@SDoughtyMP) January 8, 2016
Epilogue: twitter goes into meltdown + lizards running the BBC (all members of the Bilderberg group) are exposed in the harsh sunlight...— Stephen Doughty (@SDoughtyMP) January 8, 2016
Another Labour MP, John Woodcock, also came to the BBC’s defence, tweeting: "We rightly deride SNP for their unhinged claim that BBC was biased in the referendum. We shouldn't let unnamed sources drag us to that level.”
We rightly deride SNP for their unhinged claim that BBC was biased in the referendum. We shouldn't let unnamed sources drag us to that level— John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) January 7, 2016
BBC Newsnight’s senior broadcast journalist, Jess Brammar, also pointed out the Corporation is regularly criticised over its perceived bias towards both sides of the political spectrum.
She highlighted a series of tweets about both the left wing and right wing bias of Newsnight regarding the same edition of the programme:
The BBC has come under increasing pressure over recent years as it comes up to the review on the renewal of its Royal Charter. Many senior Tory backbenchers believe it has a left wing bias.
The Labour party confirmed last night it had made an official complaint with the BBC over Mr Doughty's resignation.Reuse content