Letter: Bias and the BBC: the case for intervention

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The Independent Online
From Mr Graham Allen, MP

Sir: Andrew Marr contends (5 April) that the questions raised over the appropriateness of Panorama's interview with the Prime Minister were an attempt to "intimidate the Corporation". The Labour Party is proud of its stout defence of the BBC over the last decade, during which time the Conservative government has made repeated attempts at manipulation and privatisation. This defence was renewed recently when Jonathan Aitken launched yet another attack upon the BBC.

However, our continuing support for the BBC does not mean that, in the event of an error of judgement, we will refrain from pointing it out. There was a genuine political issue raised by the proximity of this interview to the local elections in Scotland. The Labour Party made public its disapproval of the timing of the interview and a legal decision was taken.

This does not constitute bullying or intimidation - it was a single criticism levied at the ill-considered timing of a single television programme. Hopefully, the criticisms of an admirer will give the BBC deeper pause for thought.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Nottingham North (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

The writer is Shadow Minister for the Media.