Labour complains to BBC over ‘biased’ election coverage

Letter accuses broadcaster of showing ‘harsher scrutiny’ towards party

Zoe Tidman
Friday 06 December 2019 17:38 GMT
Andrew Neil tackles Johnson's refusal to be interviewed by him

The Labour Party has complained to the BBC, claiming the broadcaster’s election coverage is “slanted and biased”.

The party listed frustrations over “anti-Labour framing” and “the decision to allow the Conservative leader to ‘pick and choose’ his BBC platform” in a statement revealing a letter has been sent to Tony Hall, the broadcaster’s director general.

The letter, signed by co-campaign coordinator Andrew Gwynne, claimed the broadcaster had “repeatedly shown bias in its reporting of the Labour Party and its leadership” and had failed in its “obligations to fairness and impartiality” during the 2019 general election campaign.

The complaint focused heavily on Boris Johnson’s failure to do an interview with Andrew Neil and accused the BBC of letting the prime minister choose an alternative opponent to the one Jeremy Corbyn faced.

“This clearly broke the agreement the Labour Party made with the BBC in good faith”, the letter said.

After an interview with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on Thursday night, Andrew Neil turned to the camera to tackle Mr Johnson for several minutes for evading an interview.

The veteran broadcaster said: “The prime minister of our nation will, at times, have to stand up to President Trump, President Putin, President Xi of China.

“We’re surely not expecting too much if he spent half an hour standing up to me.”

Mr Gwynne claimed the Labour Party has submitted examples of “slanted editorial comment” and “harsher scrutiny” towards its leadership, policies and record.

The BBC said in a statement: “The BBC will continue to make its own independent editorial decisions, and is committed to reporting the election campaign fairly, impartially and without fear or favour.”

A spokesperson also pointed to a Guardian article written by Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, on the broadcaster’s commitment to impartiality.

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