Monday 24 October 2016

BBC reporter faces disciplinary action after 'Queen is ill' tweet sparks online alert

Published 03/06/2015 | 15:13

Queen Elizabeth II Credit: Andrew Yates
Queen Elizabeth II Credit: Andrew Yates

A BBC reporter is to face disciplinary proceedings after a tweet mistakenly claiming that the Queen had died was posted on the internet.

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The BBC has apologised for any offence caused by the inaccurate tweet, which was picked up by a number of foreign news outlets, according to reports.

Another tweet wrongly claimed that the Queen was being ''treated'' in hospital and generated speculation on social media about the state of the monarch's health.

The tweets were posted on the day the corporation held a technical rehearsal for its future coverage of the Queen's obituary but the BBC stressed that tweeting was not part of the exercise.

By coincidence, the Queen was at hospital earlier today for her routine annual medical check-up.

Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of confirming the private medical visit after concerns were raised about her wellbeing following the tweets.

The messages were posted on Twitter from the account of BBC broadcast journalist Ahmen Khawaja, and it is understood she will now face disciplinary proceedings.

One tweet said: "'Queen Elizabeth has died (sic)."

Another tweet said: "Breaking: Queen Elizabeth is being treated at King Edward VII Hospital in London. Statement due shortly."

The journalist later deleted the tweets, apologised for what she described as a "false alarm" and suggested her phone might have been hacked.

Ms Khawaja tweeted: "Phone left unattended at home. Silly prank. Apologies for upsetting anyone!"

It is thought the messages might have been posted on Twitter by someone who thought the BBC's rehearsal was a real event.

After speculation began to mount about the Queen, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ''I can confirm that the Queen this morning attended her annual medical check-up at the King Edward VII's Hospital in London.

''This was a routine, pre-scheduled appointment. The Queen has now left hospital.''

The BBC apologised for the tweets, which it said had been posted in error.

It said in a statement: "During a technical rehearsal for an obituary, tweets were mistakenly sent from the account of a BBC journalist saying that a member of the Royal Family had been taken ill. The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence."

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