Stephen Doughty: Labour MP's on-air resignation 'prearranged by the BBC'

The former shadow foreign affairs minister resigned live on air after he said he had 'looked at his own conscience"

Caroline Mortimer
Friday 08 January 2016 10:33
Stephen Doughty resignation on Daily Politics

The BBC has been criticised after it emerged it arranged for shadow foreign affairs minister Stephen Doughty to quit live on air.

The Labour minister dramatically resigned on the BBC’s Daily Politics show moments before the start of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Mr Doughty was one of three shadow ministers to step down following the sacking of Europe spokesman Pat McFadden, who had criticised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “soft” stance on terrorism.

In a blog post for the BBC’s Journalism Academy - which has since been deleted - the output editor for the programme, Andrew Alexander, explained how Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg had “sealed the deal” for Mr Doughty to exclusively break his resignation live on air.

But critics on Twitter have claimed this is a sign of the Corporation’s right wing “bias” and have accused it of “engineering the news”.

Others said as the state broadcaster the BBC should not be helping Mr Doughty “maximise the political impact” of his resignation by doing it on television directly before PMQs.

Mr Doughty said on the programme that he had “looked at his own conscience” and had decided to step down as he believed the leader’s office had told “lies” about Mr McFadden’s dismissal.

The BBC defended its decision saying Mr Doughty had “already decided to resign and willingly chose to make his announcement on the programme”.

In a statement it said: "The shadow cabinet reshuffle was a major story this week and many MPs from all camps had strong opinions which were fairly reflected across BBC output".

Mr Doughty also rushed to the organisation’s defence, saying he had already told friends he was about to resign and agreed to do so on the BBC before he could “get smeared by the same people who attacked [the] colleague I resigned over”.

Another Labour MP, John Woodcock, also came to the BBC’s defence, tweeting: "We rightly deride SNP for their unhinged claim that BBC was biased in the referendum. We shouldn't let unnamed sources drag us to that level.”

BBC Newsnight’s senior broadcast journalist, Jess Brammar, also pointed out the Corporation is regularly criticised over its perceived bias towards both sides of the political spectrum.

She highlighted a series of tweets about both the left wing and right wing bias of Newsnight regarding the same edition of the programme:

The BBC has come under increasing pressure over recent years as it comes up to the review on the renewal of its Royal Charter. Many senior Tory backbenchers believe it has a left wing bias.

The Labour party confirmed last night it had made an official complaint with the BBC over Mr Doughty's resignation.

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