BBC says Emily Maitlis speech on Cummings 'did not meet impartiality standards'


The BBC has said that an introduction to last night's Newsnight discussing the Dominic Cummings lockdown row "did not meet our standards of due impartiality".

The broadcaster posted a statement on Twitter today in which it confirmed it had reviewed the show and 'reminded staff of the guidelines'.

Emily Maitlis opened the programme by saying the Prime Minister's chief adviser had "broken the rules" and "the country can see that, and it's shocked the Government cannot".

She continued: "The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us he worked with them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be."
Ms Maitlis said Cummings had made the public 'feel like fools'

The broadcaster has now released a statement saying: "The BBC must uphold the highest standards of due impartiality in its news output.

"We've reviewed the entirety of last night's Newsnight, including the opening section, and 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.

"As it was, we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality.

"Our staff have been reminded of the guidelines."
Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, makes a statement inside 10 Downing Street (Image: PA)

On the show, Ms Maitlis, who was named network presenter of the year at the Royal Television Society Awards for her interview with Prince Andrew, also said the public mood was "fury, contempt and anguish" over Mr Cummings' actions.

She continued: “He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, he tagged the lazy label of ‘elite’ on those who disagreed.

“He should understand that public mood. One of fury, contempt, and anguish."

She added: “He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to feel like they can flout them.”
Cummings has not apologised for his actions (Image: Daily Mirror Phil Harris)

And she took aim at Boris Johnson and said: "The Prime Minister knows all this, and despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls, and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it."

Ms Maitlis has not commented on the BBC statement, but last night retweeted a number of tweets from viewers about the opening of the show, including one which said: "OK, that is an opening... @maitlis tells it how it is."

And another that read: "Savage brilliance from @maitlis#newsnight".

The accomplished journalist's Prince Andrew broadcast on his friendship with disgraced Jeffrey Epstein also won interview and scoop of the year, while Newsnight won daily news programme of the year in February.
She is an award winning journalist (Image: BBC)

Piers Morgan responded to today's BBC's statement on Twitter and said: "You’ve got to be kidding me??? BBC chucking one of its best journalists @maitlis under the bus for TELLING THE TRUTH? Utterly disgraceful."

Last year, the broadcaster became embroiled in an impartiality row over on-air comments made by BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty about Donald Trump and racism.

Ms Munchetty was previously judged to have breached BBC editorial guidelines when she discussed remarks made by Mr Trump after he told female Democrats to "go back" to their own countries.

The ruling was later reviewed and reversed by the corporation's director-general Lord Tony Hall.
Mr Johnson has also come under fire (Image: Sky)

Meanwhile, housing minister Robert Jenrick has told the British public "move on" from the outrage over Mr Cummings.

At least 30 Conservative MPs have publicly called for him to quit following revelations he drove 260 miles to be near his family in Durham during the lockdown.

The Prime Minister was today asked by Liaison Committee chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin whether the Government's "moral authority" had been undermined by the row. 

The Prime Minister said: "This has really been going on for several days now - in the media at least.

"I, of course, am deeply sorry for all the hurt and pain and anxiety that people have been going through throughout this period - this country has been going through a frankly most difficult time.

"We are asking people to do quite exceptionally tough things, separating them from their families."

Mr Johnson said he would not be adding to his previous comments on Mr Cummings and said the public wanted politicians to focus on "uniting our message" and "focusing on their needs".