BBC demands Tories take down Facebook election adverts featuring its presenters

‘This is a completely unacceptable use of content which distorts our output,’ bosses say

Jon Sharman
Thursday 28 November 2019 23:58
Conservative advert 'Get brexit done' features BBC presenters

The BBC has demanded the Conservative Party pull down adverts posted on Facebook that use edited snippets of its news output.

The Tory promotional material could "damage perceptions of our impartiality" and was "completely "unacceptable," the broadcaster said.

One of the adverts bosses objected to included an edited clip of Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, saying the phrase ”pointless delay to Brexit”. She was followed by newsreader Huw Edwards stating: “Another Brexit delay.”

The advert was captioned: “A hung parliament = gridlock. Stop the chaos. Vote Conservative.”

“This is a completely unacceptable use of BBC content which distorts our output and which could damage perceptions of our impartiality,” the BBC said in a statement.

A Conservative Party spokesperson insisted the footage had not been edited “in a manner that misleads or changes the reporting”.

“This video uses contemporary news footage to remind voters of the deadlock and delay of the last three years caused by a broken parliament that did everything it could to block Brexit,” they said, adding that Facebook users could judge the clips for themselves.

It is the latest in a string of incidents in which the Tories have been accused of misleading election campaign tactics.

During Boris Johnson‘s head-to-head debate with Jeremy Corbyn the party’s PR outfit rebranded its Twitter page as “factcheck UK”, complete with a professionally designed logo aping genuine services that aim to promote truthfulness in politics, to pump out pro-Johnson takes on the progress of the debate.

One of those legitimate groups, Full Fact, called the move “inappropriate and misleading”. Mr Johnson later floundered when attempting to defend the deception.

And earlier this month the Tory social media team deceptively edited a clip of Sir Keir Starmer being interviewed on Good Morning Britain to make it appear as though the Labour frontbencher had failed to answer a question about Brexit, when in fact he had provided a response.

Labour’s Jess Phillips also lashed out at the Conservatives over a misleading video they promoted online. The clip was edited to suggest comments by Ms Phillips about how difficult it can be for parties to deliver on their manifesto pledges were new, when in fact she had made them some weeks before the general election was announced.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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