Theresa May’s former director of communications appointed to BBC board

Sir Robbie Gibb previously criticised BBC for being ‘culturally captured by the woke-dominated group think of some of its own staff’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
@ashcowburn
Thursday 29 April 2021 15:59
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Theresa May’s former director of communications in No 10 has been appointed to the BBC board, the broadcaster has announced.

Sir Robbie Gibb, who has been vocal about his concerns over bias at the organisation, joined the former prime minister’s turbulent administration after the ill-fated election gamble in 2017 until her resignation in 2019.

Prior to his role in Downing Street — a political appointment — he worked at the BBC for over two decades, including as deputy editor of Newsnight and head of its political team at Westminster.

Since leaving No 10, he has criticised journalists’ use of social media at the BBC and wrote last year it had been “culturally captured by the woke-dominated group think of some of its own staff”.

On Thursday, the BBC’s media editor said Sir Robbie, who was knighted in Ms May’s resignation honours list, had re-joined as a member of the board, which is responsible for “ensuring we deliver our mission and public purposes”.

The brother of the schools minister, Nick Gibb, was selected to the paid role by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Sir Robbie said: “Throughout my time at the BBC and since leaving I have always believed that impartiality should be the BBC’s number one priority because it is so critical to audience trust.

“The corporation has a big job to reform and make sure it once again becomes the gold standard for broadcasting impartiality — I am privileged to have the chance to play a part in helping the BBC achieve that.”

In an article for the same publication after leaving Downing Street, Sir Robbie praised the appointment of Tim Davie as director general of the BBC, which he said should “put to bed” doubts about plans to tackle bias.

But he warned that too often the BBC output “reflects the views of just one section of society — the urban, metropolitan middle classes that make up the bulk of the BBC workforce”.

Taking aim at journalists’ use of social media, Sir Robbie went on: “Sometimes it isn’t obvious when BBC staff are displaying their political preferences, with opinionated tweets dressed up as objective analysis. Sometimes even the journalists themselves are unaware of their bias but it is still damaging to the reputation of the BBC.”

In a separate article, he claimed: “The BBC has been culturally captured by the woke-dominated group think of some of its own staff. 

“There is a Left-leaning attitude from a metropolitan workforce mostly drawn from a similar social and economic background”.

In response to his appointment, Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat culture spokesperson said: "This looks like the latest in a long line of attempts by the government to parachute their allies into senior roles at the BBC.

“It is no secret that Boris Johnson and his colleagues want to undermine the broadcaster and weaken their ability to scrutinise the work of this Government. 

"The appointment of a senior figure at the BBC, who has strong links to the Conservative Party and has launched open attacks on the broadcaster when he didn't feel like their reporting mirrored his own political views, is a troubling development. 

"A  strong, free press which is able to robustly challenge the government of the day - whatever its political leaning-  is essential in any healthy democracy and it is vital that the independence and impartiality of the BBC is not undermined.”

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