BBC and ITV political editors apologise for false hospital 'punch' claim in tweets

The political editors of the BBC and ITV were forced to apologise last night after wrongly claiming that a Labour activist had punched a Tory advisor.

Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston both tweeted the claim, but later corrected themselves after a video emerged online that proved it to be false.

However it had already been picked up by a number of news outlets. It has since been debunked by fact-checkers at Full Fact.

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Peston said he had been told about the encounter by “senior Tories”. Kuenssberg said she had been told about it by two sources, but both said it was clear from the video that these accounts were wrong.

Kuenssberg did not report the incident on the BBC News at Ten, but Peston told ITV News at Ten viewers: “One of Hancock’s aides was poked in the face, but despite what many of us were told by the Tories, it was plainly an accident.”

The error has led a number of UK journalists to question the use of unnamed party sources by political reporters, particularly during the general election campaign.

In the video shared online, Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s aide can be clearly seen walking into the outstretched arm of a Labour protestor, to which neither reacts in anger.

Hancock was visiting Leeds General Infirmary after the Yorkshire Evening Post and Daily Mirror published an image of a four-year-old boy with pneumonia sleeping on the floor of the hospital because of what they claim was a lack of bed space.

The visit came after Tory leader Boris Johnson pocketed an ITV reporter’s phone after refusing to look at the image of the boy.

Picture: Twitter/@bbclaurak

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Comments

2 thoughts on “BBC and ITV political editors apologise for false hospital 'punch' claim in tweets”

  1. Responsible journalists would check the allegation out before rushing into print.
    BBC’s Editorial Guideline 3.1 say reporters “must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.”
    Especially so when the issues involved are “controversial subjects” and “major matters” — like health during an election.
    Section 4.18.7 says the “BBC must remain independent and distanced from government initiatives …”
    Peston and Kuenssberg were both accepting Tory lines without checking.
    In doing so they leave themselves open to the charges that they are favouring Conservatives and damaging Labour.
    Extraordinary how often these “mistakes” damage Labour.
    And nor forgetting the rogue journalism of Panorama’s anti-Semitism programme.
    See https://wp.me/p3kXx7-1W9

  2. It’s ironic that on the front page of Press Gazette the link to this report appears directly above the link to the story “Level of ‘junk news’ shared online ahead of election ‘relatively low’, research finds”. If anyone wants junk news they don’t have to get it from obscure foreign sources on Facebook because they can get it from the political editors of the two of the UK’s biggest broadcasters on Twitter.

    Will we have much discussion of the ethics of Guido Fawkes publishing a story about Jonathan Ashworth based on a leaked audio recording of a private conversation? If the contents of a recording made secretly using a hidden device were published by an IPSO regulated publication they could be investigated to see if they breached the clause of the editor’s code stating that “the press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices” or if publication was in the public interest. However, it was published by Guido Fawkes who is not regulated by IPSO but is happy to publish stories about the behaviour of other publications.

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