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Saturday, September 23, 2023

BBC caught in bias row as Labour activist found working as political fact checker

NewsBBC caught in bias row as Labour activist found working as political fact checker

The BBC has been accused of “obvious bias” after reports of its news political fact-checker being a hard-Left Labour activist. Oscar Bentley, 25, joined the BBC last year and made his TV debut on Wednesday’s Politics Live, where he spoke on behalf of the broadcaster’s esteemed Political Research Unit.

He was asked to analyse claims Rishi Sunak had made about crime during Prime Minister’s Questions.

He offered a critical analysis of the Tory leader’s use of statistics, saying Mr Sunak had ignored figures for fraud and computer misuse and adding: “If you take crime actually recorded by police forces, that’s actually gone up”.

However, it has been reported that Mr Bentley has been a lifelong Labour supporter who canvassed for Corbyn at the last election.

He has repeatedly smeared Conservatives on social media – and at one point boasted about having shouted “Tories out!” at the gates of Downing Street, reported MailOnline.

Two months before polling day, Mr Bentley used Twitter to tell followers “never trust a Tory”, and after that May’s local election in York he declared that “seven hours of door knocking yesterday paid off with three Labour wins in Hull Road Ward!”

When Theresa May was attempting to enact Brexit, he wrote on Twitter: “Tory Government defeated in Parliament, what an early Christmas present” and in December 2018 said: “There are vertebrates, invertebrates, and then there are Tory MPs.”

Tory vice chairman Craig Tracey told MailOnline: “This looks like clear and obvious bias.

“Brits expect the BBC to offer impartial analysis, especially with issues that affect the whole nation, so it’s disappointing to see them spin Labour party activists as fact-checkers.

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“If the BBC wants to maintain public trust, they should be more careful about the journalists they recruit.”

Jacob Rees Mogg, the former minister who now hosts a political talk show on rival channel GB News said: “The BBC knows that it would never appoint someone who expressed Conservative views in this aggressive form so how can it be right to appoint a Labour supporter?

“The BBC seems to have given up even the veneer of impartiality so I would encourage people to tune into GB News for sensible and balanced reporting.”

The backbench MP Tom Hunt called for the BBC’s director general Tim Davie to take action.

He said: “For anyone who believes in BBC political impartiality this is clearly deeply concerning.

“It’s impossible to have any confidence in this particular BBC employee now we know what we know about his strong political leanings.

“This is a taxpayer-funded role and it’s wrong on so many different levels.

“I hope the director general takes action immediately.”

When approached for a comment, a BBC spokesperson said in a statement: “Once people are BBC employees, they are bound by the BBC’s editorial rules of impartiality, but any opinions they’ve expressed before working for the BBC, in this case when they were at university, are completely irrelevant.”

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