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Journalist's remarks on Cummings broke rules, says BBC

 

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Travel row: Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Travel row: Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Travel row: Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

BBC journalist Emily Maitlis breached impartiality guidelines when she opened 'Newsnight' by stating that Dominic Cummings had broken lockdown rules and made the British public feel like fools, the BBC admitted last night.

After her monologue provoked a political storm, the corporation released a statement saying the BBC Two programme had fallen short of required standards.

Although the BBC did not go as far as an apology, Maitlis was said to be furious that she and her colleagues had been publicly reprimanded and she did not appear as planned on last night's programme, with Katie Razzall taking her place.

The episode threatens to reignite a row between the BBC and Downing Street over perceived bias in political reporting.

In her opening remarks on Tuesday night's programme, Maitlis said: "Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that, and it's shocked the government cannot."

Mr Cummings maintains that he kept within the guidelines when he travelled to Durham with his wife and child. Maitlis also criticised Boris Johnson's "blind loyalty" to his special adviser and said the public mood is one of "fury, contempt and anguish".

She said of Mr Cummings: "He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools and has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them." The monologue was deemed suitable for broadcast by 'Newsnight's' editor, Esme Wren.

Conceding that the programme had broken impartiality rules, the BBC said: "While we believe the programme contained fair, reasonable and rigorous journalism, we feel that we should have done more to make clear the introduction was a summary of the questions we would examine, with all the accompanying evidence, in the rest of the programme."

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