BBC Breakfast presenters ‘spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities’ after Union flag row

The BBC said it had received complaints from people left “unhappy” over the incident

Chantal da Silva
Tuesday 23 March 2021 17:39 GMT
Charlie Stayt mocks size of Robert Jenrick's Union Jack flag

BBC Breakfast presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty have been “spoken to” following complaints over their reaction to a government minister’s flag, the broadcaster has said.

Following what the BBC described as a “long, serious interview” with Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick, Mr Stayt had made an “off the cuff remark” about the size of the union jack flag behind the minister.

“I think your flag is not up to standard size, government interview measurements,” he had quipped, adding: “I think it’s just a little bit small, but that’s your department really. It’s just a thought.”

Some found the comment inappropriate, with Ms Munchetty also facing criticism after liking what were branded offensive tweets about the exchange, something she has since apologised for.

“I liked tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning,” Ms Munchetty posted on Twitter at the time, adding that she had “since removed these likes.”

Read more:

“This do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken,” she said.

“We received complaints from people unhappy with a comment Charlie Stayt made about the flag in the background of an interview and Naga Munchetty’s subsequent activity on social media,” the BBC said on its complaints page.

The broadcaster said Mr Stayt’s comment were meant to be “light-hearted” and said “no offence or disrespect was intended” with the comment.

The broadcaster said both presenters had “been spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities, including the BBC’s impartiality and social media guidelines”.

Back in September, the BBC’s incoming director general Tim Davie had warned BBC staff about their use of social media.

The flag issue was also brought up at a parliamentary hearing on Monday, with Conservative MP James Wild asking Mr Davie why the union jack was not featured in the broadcaster’s annual report.

Mr Davie responded that the number of flags was a “strange metric” to measure the BBC’s dedication with, asserting that there was “no problem” with the broadcaster’s effort “championing Britain abroad”.

“We’re very proud of being British and we’ve been out there sowing Britain abroad, and the UK creative industries, for many years,” he said.

However, he added: “It’s not just about the flag, let’s face it, it’s about the UK and us getting out there and building business for the country.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in