Having received numerous complaints regarding the BBCs handling of last week's Labour front bench resignations, in particular Stephen Doughty the Beeb has been responding to its critics:
From the BBC to Complaint about Daily Politics/Stephen Doughty resignation
Thank you for contacting us about the resignation of Stephen Doughty MP from the front bench of the Labour Party on BBC Two’s ‘Daily Politics’, and a subsequent blog written about the matter on the BBC Academy website.
As you may be aware, the BBC’s editor of Live Political Programmes, Robbie Gibb, has responded to the Labour Party about this matter. We believe Mr Gibb’s response below addresses the number of issues being raised. That said, we have received a wide range of feedback about this subject and are sorry in advance if this reply doesn’t address your specific concerns. Robbie Gibb’s email response to Seumas Milne, Director of Strategy and Communications at the Labour Party, was as follows:
“Dear ** ****
Many thanks for your email of the 8th January following the Daily Politics on the 6th January.
I would like to reassure you that we are committed to producing impartial journalism and programme content that treats all political parties fairly. I would like to respond to the specific concerns raised in your email.
Firstly, I reject your suggestion that we orchestrated and stage-managed the resignation of Stephen Doughty. As he himself confirmed on Friday, Mr Doughty had decided to resign his front-bench position on Wednesday morning, before speaking to any journalists. He subsequently spoke to Laura Kuenssberg who asked if he would explain his reasons in an interview on the Daily Politics later that morning. Neither the programme production team, nor Laura, played any part in his decision to resign.
As you know it is a long standing tradition that political programmes on the BBC, along with all other news outlets, seek to break stories. It is true that we seek to make maximum impact with our journalism which is entirely consistent with the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and values.
Your letter suggests that our decision to interview Mr Doughty in the run up to Prime Minister's Questions was designed to "promote a particular political narrative". This is simply not the case. The Daily Politics does not come on air until 11:30am on Wednesdays and the BBC's Political Editor always appears live on the programme in the build up to the start of PMQs. As the confirmation of Mr Doughty’s resignation was Laura Kuenssberg's story, we felt it appropriate for her to introduce the item. Again I do not accept, in anyway, the programme has breached its duty of impartiality and independence.
The programme this week provided a balanced account of the shadow cabinet reshuffle. Lisa Nandy was interviewed at length on Wednesday while Cat Smith discussed the issue in detail the day before.
You also made reference in your email to the deleted blog. It might be helpful for me to explain the background to this.
Following the media reaction to Mr Doughty's resignation and appearance on the programme the BBC's training department, the BBC Academy, contacted me asking for an article explaining what goes on behind the scenes when a politician resigns live on air.
I had assumed (wrongly) that the article was for internal purposes only.
When it became apparent that it had been published more widely, we decided to delete it as the piece was written in a tone that was only suitable for an internal audience. No other inference should be drawn from our decision to delete the blog.
I would just like to finish by underlining our commitment to ensuring our coverage of the Labour Party is fair, accurate and impartial.
I hope we can look forward to working constructively together over the coming months.”
We hope this addresses your concerns, thanks again for taking the time to contact us.
Thank you for contacting us.
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