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Fury as BBC boss ‘tells staff to lay off Labour’

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Simon Walters
Uk Daily Mail
Sunday, Sept 14, 2008

The BBC was at the centre of a political bias row last night over claims a senior executive told reporters to ‘go easy’ on the Labour Government now it is lagging behind the Tories in the polls.

According to a well-placed source, the man in charge of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today In Parliament told his staff that it was right to be ‘aggressive’ when things were going well for the Government but not when it was in trouble.

Some of those present were outraged by the comments attributed to Peter Knowles, editor of the BBC’s parliamentary programmes, at an ‘away day’ gathering in London.

(Article continues below)

‘He appeared to be saying the BBC should lay off Gordon Brown because Labour was in trouble,’ said a source.

‘It was appalling. The BBC should be rigorous and fair at all times. To suggest anything else – especially when a General Election is not far off – is extraordinary. It did not hold back when John Major’s Government was in trouble.’

BBC management strongly denied Mr Knowles had made the comments and said it was ‘absurd’ to claim orders had gone out to ‘go easy’ on Labour.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

A spokesman confirmed Mr Knowles, 46, discussed political impartiality at the away day for staff on Radio 4’s Today In Parliament and Yesterday In Parliament. But he insisted the purpose was to stress the importance of avoiding political bias. ‘We do not discuss private team meetings,’ said the spokesman. ‘But any talks about the impartiality of BBC News are aimed at ensuring complete impartiality for all political parties, not the reverse.’

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This article was posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 4:09 am

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