Labour vs the BBC: Official complaint lodged over Doughty’s on-air resignation

8th January, 2016 7:42 pm


Labour have made an official complaint to the BBC over the handling of Stephen Doughty’s resignation as a shadow minister on Wednesday.

Doughty announced his decision to step down from his role as a Shadow Foreign minister live on the Daily Politics on Wednesday, just minutes before PMQs started. He had spoken to BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg earlier in the day, confirming his plans to resign. Kuenssberg asked if he would make the announcement on the show, which he agreed to. He then wrote to Jeremy Corbyn to tender his resignation before appearing on the programme.

However, the broadcaster has come in for criticism for its actions, and stands accused of “orchestrating” the announcement in order to damage the Labour Party in a biased manner. A senior Labour source told Political Scrapbook: “These events question credibility of all involved … raises questions at the heart of democracy.”

Now Labour have complained to the BBC about the situation. In a statement, a Corbyn spokesperson said:

“By the BBC’s own account, BBC journalists and presenters proposed and secured the resignation of a shadow minister on air in the immediate run-up to Prime Minister’s Questions, apparently to ensure maximum news and political impact. That was evidently done before any notice of resignation was sent to the Labour leader.

“Such orchestration of political controversy is an unacceptable breach of the BBC’s role and statutory obligations.

“Trust in the impartiality and independence of the BBC is essential. The BBC’s role is to report the news impartially, rather than seek to influence events or promote a particular political narrative.”

The complaint is clearly supported by senior Shadow Cabinet ministers such as key Corbyn ally Jon Trickett, who tweeted earlier today that the situation was “a disgrace”.

However, not everyone agrees. Matthew Doyle, a former head of press and broadcasting at the Labour Party, reacted to news of the complaint saying: “Since when has it been wrong for the BBC to break a story? Does Jeremy Corbyn really believe the BBC wouldn’t have done exactly the same thing with an equivalent story from the Tories?”

At the time of writing, an online petition calling for the sacking of Kuenssberg and Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil had almost 4,000 signatures.

UPDATE: The BBC have responded to the complaint, according to The Times’ Matt Chorley. He has tweeted a reproduction of the email from the Daily Politics’ producer Robbie Gibb to Jeremy Corbyn’s Director of Communications and Strategy Seumas Milne.

Gibb says they did not play “any part in his decision to resign”, and rejects the “suggestion that we orchestrated and stage-managed the resignation of Stephen Doughty”.

He adds that their attempt to “make maximum impact” with their journalism “entirely consistent with the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and values”.

You can read the whole email here:

UPDATE II: Stephen Doughty says the complaint is a “conspiracy”, that he describes as “embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing” (in a reference to this John McDonnell quote) and claims with help the Tories in their attacks on the BBC. Paul Waugh has the quote:

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]


  • News Weekly survey: English patriotism and devolved mayor selections

    Weekly survey: English patriotism and devolved mayor selections

    This week Tristram Hunt and Jon Cruddas have both called on Labour to embrace ideas of community and to develop a progressive idea of English patriotism. Do you think this is an effective way for Labour to win over voters in England? There are now three people in the race to become Labour’s candidate for Greater Manchester Mayor: Andy Burnham, Ivan Lewis and Tony Lloyd. Who do you think should be the Labour candidate for next year’s election? There are two people, […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Featured News Momentum swings behind vote to stay in EU

    Momentum swings behind vote to stay in EU

    Momentum has vowed to throw its weight behind the campaign for an In vote in next month’s EU referendum after it held a consultation with supporters. The pro-Corbyn group surprised many people earlier this year when it confirmed they had not taken a position on the referendum, despite the Labour leader and the party adopting a firm stance in favour of Remain. It was seen as the first time that Momentum had not automatically supported Jeremy Corbyn’s position, and led to […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Blair questions whether Corbyn can win in 2020

    Blair questions whether Corbyn can win in 2020

    Tony Blair has cast doubt on whether Jeremy Corbyn could win a general election as he called for a ground war to defeat ISIS. The former prime minister, who spoke out against Corbyn’s campaign last summer, also described his surprise at the rise of populist political movements in Britain and the US. In comments that will spark a furious debate among Labour supporters, Blair questioned the appeal of Corbynistas after their leader’s overwhelming win in the leadership contest. “It’s not yet […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Apprenticeships pledge reveals another broken Tory promise

    Apprenticeships pledge reveals another broken Tory promise

    Another month, another broken ministerial pledge. It centres around the delivery of a promise on apprenticeships, and it fuels the let-down felt by people and businesses in my Bristol South constituency. It seems a long time ago, but the 2015 Queen’s Speech highlighted apprenticeships as a big part of the government’s plan, with a pledge for three million new ones by 2020. Home to some of the most economically deprived wards in the country, Bristol South sends fewer of its […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Local Government News Sadiq names his City Hall deputies to shake-up housing and transport

    Sadiq names his City Hall deputies to shake-up housing and transport

    Sadiq Khan has today finalised his top team to help implement his plans at City Hall with the announcement of his deputy mayors. Joanne McCartney was Khan’s first official appointment when she was made his statutory Deputy Mayor. Now she has been joined by deputy mayors with responsibility for housing, transport and policing. The most well-known of the new appointments is Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, who stood down as an Assembly Member this month after 16 years. She […]

    Read more →

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends