Grenfell Tower fire: BBC denies Lily Allen was pulled from Newsnight due to controversial remarks

Singer had earlier accused government of 'downplaying' real number of fatalities

Jacob Stolworthy@Jacob_Stol
Friday 16 June 2017 12:43
Lily Allen: The Grenfell death count is being downplayed to micro-manage grief

The BBC has denied it cancelled Lily Allen's Newsnight appearance because of her controversial comments about the Grenfell Tower blaze on Channel 4 News.

Allen seemed to suggest on social media that she had been pulled from the political show's line-up and replaced by “someone from the council” because of her refusal to hold back on views regarding the catastrophic London fire which destroyed a Kensington tower block and ended the lives of 30.

A spokesperson for the BBC insisted that Allen's appearance was cancelled so as to allow presenter Kirsty Wark the opportunity to conduct a “thorough” interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council who the channel had signed up to appear late on in the day.

The BBC said:

“With live news programmes like Newnight final decisions on guests are often made late in the day which can mean the line up changes at short notice. Newsnight secured an interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council late on Thursday evening and dropped Lily in order to allow time for Kirsty Wark to conduct a thorough accountability interview. Like other BBC outlets, Newsnight has reported official casualty figures but also made it clear that they are expected to rise substantially.”

BBC Newsnight editor Ian Katz elaborated the decision on Twitter, writing: "We generally prioritise iviews with people who can be held accountable."

Allen had earlier appeared on Channel 4 News where she accused the government of "downplaying" the real number of fatalities which, at the time of reporting, was 17.

“I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media,” she told newsreader Jon Snow.

Allen continued “Seventeen? I'm sorry but I'm hearing from people that the figure is much closer to 150, and that many of those people are children.

“Those are off the record numbers I've been given from policemen and from firemen.”

Snow played devil's advocate. While acknowledging that the fatalities will likely increase “very considerably,” the broadcaster suggested that the death toll reports may be clouded due to the difficulty in identifying victims.

Allen later expressed her views on Twitter throughout the evening, taking into account Snow's comments.

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“I appreciate the difficulties with identifying bodies, but there are people out here clinging to hope when I don't think there is any,” she wrote before posting a note detailing why she's linking the tragedy to politics.

Allen isn't the only figure from the world being vocal about politics following the incident: Mobo award-winning artist Akala expressed his belief that the victims died “because they were poor.”

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