BBC acknowledges complaint against booking of ‘Islamophobic’ guest on Today programme

The BBC has acknowledged a complaint that it failed to properly introduce a guest on the Today programme who has previously been described as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes”.

The Radio 4 team failed to “challenge” Gaffney’s “conspiracy theories about Muslims and Islam” when he appeared on the show in January, according to complainant Miqdaad Versi.

Gaffney was introduced on the programme as “the Assistant Secretary for Defense under President Reagan, and founder of the Centre for Security Policy based in Washington”.

Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said this did not it make clear to the audience that he was “associated with an anti-Muslim conspiratorial viewpoint”.

In his complaint, Versi argued that the BBC had failed to “rigorously test” Gaffney’s contentious views on Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood.

He told Press Gazette: “It is hugely worrying that our publicly funded BBC is providing an unchallenged platform to bigots, normalising their spread of hatred of Muslims.

“Whilst it is welcome that there is an acknowledgement of the error in this case, especially given the error on the highly influential Today programme, a lack of an apology and no on-air acknowledgement for this serious breach of the BBC’s own guidelines is deeply disappointing.”

In response to the complaint, the BBC said: “The Today team had acknowledged that information about Mr Gaffney’s views would have helped listeners to evaluate his remarks. 

“In the view of the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), this sufficed to resolve the issue of complaint.”

Versi has made a number of previous complaints about coverage of Islam in the UK media. 

At the end of last year, he successfully complained about a Sunday Times story headlined: “Enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim” which wsa subsequently changed to: “Britain is 50-90% Asian, say schoolchildren”.

In the same month he complained about a Sun on Sunday story which mistook the identities of one Muslim who opposes extremism and another who was accused of it.

The Muslim Council of Britain, of which he is a prominent figure, also complained about the Spectator writer Douglas Murray being given a platform on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme because they deemed him to be “anti-Muslim” and “anti-Islamic”.

Picture: BBC

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