BBC to speak to Maitlis over her latest comments

Emily MaitlisImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Maitlis told the Press Gazette she did not regret her Newsnight monologue

  • Published

The BBC has once again voiced its commitment to impartiality after Emily Maitlis said she did not regret her comments about Dominic Cummings.

The corporation reprimanded Newsnight last May after the presenter delivered a monologue which was heavily critical of the prime minister's aide.

In an interview with the Press Gazette, external earlier this week, Maitlis said she did not regret her monologue.

The BBC has said it would be speaking to Maitlis about the issue.

Reflecting on her monologue, Maitlis said: "It hasn't ever been explained to me what was journalistically inaccurate about [it]."

After the interview was published, a BBC spokesperson said: "Nothing is more important than our impartiality. All BBC journalists must abide by the BBC's editorial guidelines and social media rules. There are no exceptions. We will be taking this up with Emily."

At the beginning of the BBC Two programme broadcast on 26 May 2020, Maitlis said the country was "shocked" that the government could not see that Boris Johnson's aide had broken the rules by travelling from London to County Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.

She said the "public mood" was "one of fury, contempt and anguish", and that Mr Cummings had made people who struggled to keep to the government's rules "feel like fools".

The BBC said the comments did not meet the required standards of due impartiality. Ofcom said it would not be investigating in light of the action already taken by the BBC.

The regulator did say, however, that Maitlis's monologue "could be perceived" as her personal view, and it warned the corporation that presenters must not "inadvertently give the impression" of giving their personal opinions.

More recently, Mr Cummings said his journey was partly prompted by security concerns at his home address. This was not made public at the time.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Maitlis was highly critical of Mr Cummings in her monologue

Last month, the BBC once again reprimanded Maitlis after she retweeted a comment from former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan. 

"If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?" Morgan posted on Twitter.

The BBC's Executive Complaints Unit found that the "retweeted material was clearly controversial, implying sharp criticism of the government, and there was nothing in the surrounding context to make clear that Ms Maitlis was not endorsing it or to draw attention to alternative views".

It added that despite Maitlis removing the post after 10 minutes, she failed to publicly clarify that it had fallen short of editorial standards.

Maitlis told the Press Gazette she deleted the retweet quickly because "just didn't want to be on the receiving end of a load of @PiersMorgan tweets".