BBC accused of 'extraordinary attacks' on Jeremy Corbyn... by ex-BBC boss

Written by John Ashmore on 12 May 2016 in Diary

Intervention by Sir Michael Lyons may be taken more seriously than recent petition criticising Laura Kuenssberg.

A former BBC boss has accused some of its senior journalists of attacking Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to gain favour with the Conservatives.

Sir Michael Lyons, who chaired the BBC Trust from 2007 to 2011, said the Corporation had been trying to "hedge its bets" ahead of the White Paper published today on its charter renewal.

His claims were immediately rubbished by BBC director general Lord Hall, who said they were "extraordinary".

Some supporters of Corbyn have claimed that he is the victim of a deliberate campaign from media outlets to undermine his leadership.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg was recently the subject of an online petition calling for her to be sacked over allegedly biased coverage of Labour’s performance. It had to be withdrawn by the campaign group 38 Degrees after she was the subject of sexist abuse.

Those concerns were echoed today by Sir Michael, who is a former Labour councillor, on Radio Four's World at One.

He said: "I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that the BBC has sought to hedge its bets of late. There have been some quite extraordinary attacks on the elected leader of the Labour party, I mean quite extraordinary.

“I can understand why people are worried about whether some of the most senior editorial voices at the BBC have lost their impartiality on this.”

Sir Michael implied that this alleged loss of neutrality was due to concerns within the BBC about the Conservatives’ proposed reforms to its Royal Charter.

“We’ve had a charter renewal process which has been littered with wild kites flown, which we cannot see whether the string is held by the Secretary of State, but the suspicion is that actually it’s people very close to him,” he said.

“His own comments have suggested that he might be blessed by a future without the BBC.  Is the BBC strong enough to withstand a challenge to its integrity and impartiality?”

His remarks were rejected by Lord Hall, who insisted his colleagues maintained the highest standards of impartiality.

“That is an extraordinary claim to make, that our journalists and our journalism would in any way not treat impartially all sides of arguments during a review of the charter,” he told the World at One.

“That’s not the journalism I know…I think the journalism of the BBC is impartial, we test all sides. The journalists at the BBC do  a really hard job in the midst of controversy bringing a light and calm judgement to what’s going on.”

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