United Kingdom

Ofcom advises BBC after complaints over Emily Maitlis' Newsnight monologue on Dominic Cummings

Ofcom has warned the BBC over Emily Maitlis' Dominic Cummings monologue, saying hosts must not 'inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions'.

The Newsnight presenter's opening monologue in May last year sparked more than 23,000 complaints to the BBC after she introduced the programme, which discussed Dominic Cummings' journey from London to Durham during the first national lockdown.

Ms Maitlis said Boris Johnson's former adviser 'broke the rules,' adding: 'The country can see that, and it's shocked the Government cannot.' 

Ofcom has said it will take no further action over a monologue made by Emily Maitlis on Newsnight last May, where she said Dominic Cummings 'broke the rules,' over his journey from London to Durham during lockdown

Yesterday Ofcom announced it would take no further action after assessing complaints made by viewers, saying: 'We did not consider the programme raised issues warranting investigation. 

'However, we have reminded the BBC that when preparing programme introductions in news programmes, which are designed to catch the audience’s attention – particularly in matters of major political controversy – presenters should ensure that they do not inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions or views.'

Mr Cummings has always denied breaking lockdown rules by travelling from London to Durham in late March last year. 

Last September the Editorial Complaints Unit said there had been a breach of impartiality rules and that the rant 'placed the presenter closer to one side of the debate' over Mr Cummings' actions at the time. 

Mr Cummings has always denied breaking rules by making the trip. Ofcom's guidance, published yesterday, reminded the BBC that hosts must not 'inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions'

Ms Maitlis' full opening comment to the programme on May 26 read: 'Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that, and it's shocked the government cannot.

'The longer ministers and the Prime Minister tell us he worked with them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.

'He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, he tagged the lazy label of 'elite' on those who disagreed.

'He should understand that public mood now. One of fury, contempt and anguish.

'He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them.

'The Prime Minister knows all this, but despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls, and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it.'

'Tonight we consider what this blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10.'

Within 24 hours, the BBC released a statement saying the programme had not met 'standards of due impartiality', adding that staff had been 'reminded of the guidelines'. 

'However, we also considered that the presenter’s opening remarks had the potential to be perceived by some viewers as an expression of her personal view on a matter of major political controversy and major matter relating to current public policy.' 

Football news:

Giggs will not be in charge of the Wales squad at the Euro. He is accused of assaulting two women
Giggs has been charged with assaulting two women
Tuchel on Super League: The Chelsea owner doesn't have to apologize to me
Barcelona is preparing a 2+1 contract for Messi. Laporta is looking for a way to sign the stars to convince Lionel of the club's competitiveness
The investment banker analyzed the typical financial mistakes of athletes. And modeled a safe accumulation plan
Guardiola on the reform of the Champions League: Everyone wants to improve quality, and UEFA strives for quantity. We need to ask them to increase the year to 400 days
Hazard has recovered from his injury and will be able to play with Betis. He has not been on the pitch for more than a month