BBC apology for 'misleading impression' that MP was silenced

The BBC broadcast an apology to Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie tonight for using footage that gave a “misleading impression” that he had been silenced by Downing Street.

Scenes showing Steve Hilton, one of David Cameron’s most senior advisers, apparently leading the chairman of the Treasury select committee off for a private discussion following criticism he had made of the Government’s growth strategy were broadcast during the Tory party conference.

After that talk,Tyrie appeared to have a change of heart on the economy, saying he was greatly encouraged by what he had heard in a speech by George Osborne.

A BBC correspondent reported that he had been given a “talking to” prior to giving televised interviews about the Chancellor’s address and footage was shown of Hilton putting his arm round Tyrie and taking him off for a talk.

But the corporation did not make clear that Tyrie had already told its journalists that his opinions on growth had changed before the incident with Hilton had taken place.

An on-air apology for giving the impression the Chichester MP had been influenced by officials was made during the 5pm bulletin on the BBC News Channel.

BBC news anchor Huw Edwards told viewers the channel had shown footage that indicated Tyrie had been “influenced by a Downing Street official into saying something he didn’t believe to be true”.

He added: “We have apologised to Mr Tyrie for those broadcasts.”

Tyrie tonight accepted the BBC’s apology and attempted to draw a line under the incident.

He said: “I am extremely grateful to the BBC, and for doing this without needing to make a formal complaint.

“They have accepted that they made a mistake – we all make them – and apologised. As far as I’m concerned that is an end of the matter.”

A BBC spokesman said: “Last month we broadcast some reports from the Conservative Party conference which fell below our usual standards.

“Our reports gave a misleading impression that Andrew Tyrie MP had been influenced by a Downing Street official to say something he did not believe to be true.

“We have apologised to Mr Tyrie for our broadcasts.”

It is not the first time the BBC has said sorry for misleading editing.

The corporation’s most high-profile apology followed a sequence of footage that wrongly implied the Queen had walked out of a portrait session.

The programme trailer for the documentary A Year With The Queen showed the monarch in an exchange with photographer Annie Leibovitz, followed by a clip of her apparently walking off.

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