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BBC rules on Newsnight complaint

January 31, 2014 at 12:49 am

The BBC has upheld a complaint that Jeremy Paxman failed to adequately challenge Louise Ellman MP on false claims she made about child suicide bombers during an edition of Newsnight.
Paxman, who has famously been described as a Rottweiler for his aggressive style of interviewing, allowed Ellman to go completely unchallenged on three occasions as she claimed that child suicide bombers are being used to target Israel from Gaza.

This week, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit ruled that Ellman’s claims should have been challenged and Paxman failed to do this.
Andy Bell, Complaints Director of the ECU, issued an apology on behalf of the BBC for what he described as its ‘lapse in editorial standards’.

Amena Saleem, of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which complained to the BBC following the edition of Newsnight on 14 February, 2011, said: ‘Louise Ellman clearly went on Newsnight with a set agenda and had no intention of discussing the issues raised in the relevant item, which focused on the poverty suffered by children in Gaza as a result of Israel’s illegal siege.
‘Instead, she used her appearance to make false claims about children being used as suicide bombers and, instead of challenging these claims, Paxman allowed her to repeat the lie three times.’
Ms Saleem  added: ‘Paxman may be known in journalistic circles as a Rottweiler but his weak interview with Ellman has left him looking more like a poodle.’
In its original response to PSC’s complaint, the BBC claimed that Paxman had been ‘robust’ in his challenges to Ellman. This was challenged by PSC, leading to this week’s ruling
Ms Saleem  said: ‘It’s taken five months to get the BBC to admit to Jeremy Paxman’s failings during this interview and apologise, but we welcome this eventual decision.’