Emily Maitlis won't present Newsnight after Dominic Cummings commentsby Louise Griffin
Emily Maitlis won’t be appearing on Newsnight after her comments about Dominic Cummings.
The BBC confirmed to Metro.co.uk that Katie Razzall will be presenting on Wednesday night’s episode instead.
It’s our understanding that the BBC did not stop or prevent Emily from presenting the show, with Katie confirming on Twitter: ‘Just for the record, Emily @maitlis has not been asked by the BBC to take tonight off – and if I thought she had been, I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to present the show.’
News bosses at the broadcaster ruled that her comments ‘did not meet’ standards of impartiality.
Maitlis this week accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Number 10 of ‘blind loyalty’ to Cummings in the ongoing row over the aide’s lockdown trip, in what appeared to many as a breach of the BBC impartiality rules.
At the beginning of her Tuesday night broadcast, she said the PM’s adviser ‘broke the rules’ by taking a controversial 260-mile trip to County Durham with his family in March, when lockdown had been put in place. She also said his move ‘made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools’.
Following uproar from viewers, the BBC released a statement on Wednesday afternoon that read: ‘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.’
Emily Maitlis' comments about Dominic Cummings
‘Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot.
‘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.
‘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 now. One of fury, contempt and anguish.
‘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 Prime Minister knows all this, but 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.’
‘Tonight we consider what this blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10.’
According to the BBC’s guidance on its own editorial standards, it states: ‘…We are impartial, seeking to reflect the views and experiences of our audiences – so that our output as a whole includes a breadth and diversity of opinion and no significant strand of thought is under-represented or omitted.
‘We are independent of outside interests and arrangements that could compromise our editorial integrity. Our editorial standards do not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles.’
Viewers were divided over Maitlis’ comments, with Piers Morgan throwing his support behind her and writing: ‘What rules did Emily break? And even if you think she did, I thought the new rule is that we can all use our ‘instinct’ to ignore rules?’
However many others felt it went against the impartial standards of the BBC and called for the watchdog to be brought in. Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer said: ‘I’m sorry but this is TOTALLY unacceptable from @maitlis, Newsnight and the BBC. The BBC is REQUIRED to be impartial.
‘This is a clear breach of their own rules. Commentators (including me) can give their own opinions, BBC presenters cannot.’
Mr Cummings faced widespread backlash after he travelled 260 miles from London to Durham during the UK lockdown.
Cummings has been backed by Boris Johnson and explained that he felt the travel was necessary.
He has also said he harbours ‘no regrets’ about driving his son and wife, who were displaying symptoms of COVID-19, to Durham.
Newsnight airs tonight at 10:45pm on BBC Two.
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