Andrew Marr has caused a stir after he was seen complimenting the International Development Secretary on her performance during an interview on his show.
The BBC journalist was caught on camera signalling a thumbs-up to Penny Mordaunt and whispering “that was very good” after she responded to a question on his flagship Sunday morning interview programme.
The remark, filmed when Marr thought the cameras had stopped rolling, was met with a backlash, with some viewers accusing him of bias and questioning whether he would “respond in a similar fashion” to Labour politicians.
Rob Burley, the editor of the Andrew Marr Show, later defended the interviewer’s conduct, saying he was “being polite” to the Tory minister because he was an “actual human”.
Ms Mordaunt was appearing on the show to discuss the sexual misconduct allegations against Oxfam workers. She warned during the interview that Oxfam would be stripped of UK aid money unless it handed over all information about its workers’ use of prostitutes.
The interview then turned to Brexit, at which point the Cabinet minister said “no one thought it was going to be a walk in the park" but insisted she was still “chipper” about the process.
It was at that point that Marr handed over to Nick Campbell for a preview of the next show and then, apparently thinking he was no longer on screen, gave Ms Mordaunt a thumbs-up and tell her “that was very good”.
Responding to the remark, Labour supporter Colin Hall tweeted: “Would he respond in similar fashion to, say, Diane Abbott or Emily Thornberry? Not a chance.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Looked as if he thought the camera and mic had already moved away. Wonder if he gives senior Labour guests that kind of encouragement?”
But others implied the criticisms of Marr were going to far, using a sarcastic tone to parody the claims of"BBC bias".
Twitter user David Jones tweeted: "I am absolutely disgusted that Andrew Marr didn’t throw a glass of water into Penny Mordaunt’s face and call her a “f***ing shit interviewee” and then throw her out of the studio. Typical BBC Bias.”
Another wrote: “Can't believe Andrew Marr didn't spit in Penny Mordaunt's face then flail her with a cat-o-nine-tails after that interview. Typical #BBCBias.”
Mr Burley tweeted in response to the criticism: "I hate to spoil what you see as the final, clinching evidence of a high level conspiracy, but he was just being nice like an actual human as he is to everyone he interviews, regardless of party."
He added: "It's called being polite and human."
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