Leader of Commons claims appointment of Jess Brammar would damage ‘whole perception of impartiality’ at corporation
Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed the BBC risks damaging its reputation if it appoints as a senior executive a journalist who has allegedly expressed Left-wing views on social media.
On Tuesday, Mr Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons, claimed the potential hiring of Jess Brammar to lead the broadcaster’s news channels would damage the “whole perception of independence and impartiality at the BBC”.
Wading into the row, he told the ConservativeHome Moggcast that the controversy highlighted that the BBC “really do damage themselves” and also appeared to contrast Brammar with Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, whom he said had built up a “political and professional reputation” for being “completely impartial”.
His intervention comes days after it was reported that Sir Robbie Gibb, a BBC board member and former director of communications to Theresa May, had urged the corporation not to appoint Brammar.
Mr Gibb, a government appointee to the board, is said to have warned Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director for news and current affairs, that Brammar’s hiring would damage relations with the Government.
Brammar has recently deleted a string of social media posts on Twitter, which include alleging that there was an “influential camp” at Downing Street that “doesn’t want to reach out to minorities and work with them”.
In recent months, she also became embroiled in a bitter dispute with Number 10 as the editor of Huffington Post UK after Kemi Badenoch, a Treasury minister, published private email requests for comment from one of the website’s journalists.
The move, which raised questions over the Government’s treatment of reporters, prompted Brammar to accuse Ms Badenoch of fuelling hatred towards “young, female, black journalists”.
Labour has claimed the controversy raises questions over the BBC’s independence and is calling on Sir Robbie to resign, with critics also highlighting that the corporation’s chairman is a former adviser to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
However, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “You have to ask yourself when did the BBC last hire someone from ConservativeHome to come and be their senior figure … or from The Telegraph.
“I remember when they appointed Andrew Marr as their political editor, who was a polemicist for one of the Left-wing newspapers, somebody said to them why hadn’t they appointed Boris Johnson or someone from the Right. They said ‘of course we can’t do that, he’s far too controversial’. When it’s the Left, it’s fine, when it’s from the Right that’s beyond the pale.
“I think the BBC does itself a lot of damage in this regard. Because people like Laura Kuenssberg make their professional reputations on being completely impartial and she gets criticised by the Left and the Right in pretty much equal quantity.
“And then the BBC management goes off and starts suggesting it should hire someone from a Left-wing outlet. That damages the whole perception of independence and impartiality at the BBC. They really do damage themselves.”
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