CFI criticises BBC’s “double standards” and “lack of self-awareness” following “disappointing” reply to complaint over Professor John Ashton

By May 06 2020, 16:26 Latest News No Comments

BBC_front_1200-1 (1)CFI Parliamentary Chairmen Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles, together with CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE, have criticised the BBC of “double standards” and a “lack of self-awareness”, following a “disappointing” response to their letter last week about concerning views expressed by BBC panellist Professor John Ashton.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP, Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles and Lord Polak CBE said in a statement: “We are disappointed with the BBC’s response, which shows a lack of self-awareness. BBC news coverage has rightly sought to hold organisations accountable for their use of individuals who are in breach of the IHRA modern definition of Antisemitism. It smacks of double standards that they do not see the relevance of applying the same discipline to themselves. The BBC always have a choice of experts, all we ask is that they choose a participant that does not send an ambiguous message”.

In a letter to CFI, Francesca Unsworth, Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, defended the BBC’s use of Professor John Ashton in the wake of reports that he had made remarks that breached the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. Responding to CFI, Francesca Unsworth defended the Professor’s inclusion in BBC programming “however abhorrent some members of the audience may find them”. Please find the full letter enclosed.

Last week, CFI wrote to BBC Director General Lord Hall highlighting “grave concerns” over the continued inclusion of public health expert Professor John Ashton in BBC programming despite a reported “long history” of inflammatory statements, including those in breach of the IHRA definition of Antisemitism. The parliamentarians identified troubling comments by the Professor exposed by the Jewish Chronicle last week that it is “surely time for Jews to reflect” on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Mr Crabb, Lord Pickles and Lord Polak contended that “Professor Ashton’s past comments should not be excused by any expertise he may possess on public health issues” and that the “BBC has a responsibility to thoroughly vet all contributors and take a zero-tolerance approach to racism of any kind”.

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