BBC Chair Richard Sharp has said MacTaggart lecturer Emily Maitlis was “completely wrong” to say due process was not followed after her now-infamous Dominic Cummings Newsnight rant, and rubbished her claim that a Conservative Party agent sits on the BBC Board.
Maitlis, who has now left the BBC and is fronting a Global podcast, made the comments during last month’s Edinburgh TV Festival address, stating that the BBC had “sought to pacify the complaint” immediately, which she disagreed with.
Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee this morning, Sharp said she was “completely wrong” to say due process was not followed.
“While I thought the issues raised were worthwhile, I disagree with her view of impartiality which may mean she led with opinions, not facts. We found Newsnight had not appropriately addressed the issue because she led with her opinions.”
The now-infamous opening segment led with Maitlis stating “Dominic Cummings broke the rules” after Boris Johnson’s former adviser was accused of breaking lockdown rules and travelling to Barnard Castle in the midst of the first lockdown.
Maitlis and her Newsnight team were reprimanded quickly for what was deemed an impartiality breach.
Sitting alongside Sharp, BBC Director General Tim Davie said the BBC made “the right decision unequivocally.”
“I can categorically tell you that taking a call from a politician doesn’t make us say ‘we need to change something,’” he added. “I’ve looked in detail at this. There was a proper discussion and a call was made. I’m sorry we’re in a different position to Emily but that’s what happens.”
Sharp also pushed back on Prince Andrew interviewer Maitlis’ MacTaggart claim that an “agent of the Conservative Party” is currently sitting on the BBC Board, namely Sir Robbie Gibb, who reportedly pushed the Board to block the appointment of a news journalist he believed to be overly critical of the government.
“You can’t characterize our most recent appointments as one type,” added Sharp.