Peers rage at BBC over ‘parroting Hamas propaganda’ as corporation’s head Tim Davie prepares to be grilled by Tory MPs
The BBC has faced fresh criticism over its coverage of the Middle East crisis as the coporation’s chief prepares for a grilling by Tory MPs tonight.
Tim Davie, the BBC director general, is set to be quizzed at a private meeting of Conservative backbenchers in Parliament.
In a highly unusual move, Mr Davie will address the party’s 1922 Committee behind closed doors this evening.
It follows widespread anger among Tory MPs over the BBC’s reporting of the Hamas terror attacks on Israel earlier this month.
The broadcaster faced fury over its refusal to describe the militant group as ‘terrorists’.
The BBC also caused outrage when it initially speculated that Israel was to blame for an explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City.
Tim Davie, the BBC director general, is set to be quizzed at a private meeting of Tory backbenchers
In a highly unusual move, Mr Davie will address the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee behind closed doors in Parliament this evening
The BBC caused outrage when it initially speculated that Israel was to blame for an explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, a Tory former justice minister, used a House of Lords debate last night to blast the BBC report in which it ‘cited uncritically that Israel had struck the Al-Ahli hospital’.
This was ‘parroting Hamas propaganda’, the peer said, adding: ‘Others repeated that propaganda, including I’m afraid, a noble friend of mine, who tweeted not just that the Israelis had hit the hospital, but they had targeted it.
‘She used that word twice. I called that out as a modern blood libel and I’m delighted to see that the most Reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury used the same language recently as well.
‘But the damage was done – other terrorist groups will have seen and taken note, so we should remember the old injunction: careless talk costs lives.’
Lord Wolfson, a practising Orthodox Jew, also criticised the BBC’s ‘abject failure to describe Hamas as what it is in plain English, a terrorist group’.
He has clashed with fellow Tory peer Baroness Warsi on social media over the Al-Ahli Arab hospital strike.
On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told MPs that – based on British intelligence and analysis by weapons experts – the Government judged the hospital explosion was likely caused by a missile, or part of one, that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel.
The BBC has issued an apology over its coverage of the incident via an article on its ‘corrections and clarifications’ webpage.
‘We accept that even in this fast-moving situation it was wrong to speculate in this way about the possible causes and we apologise for this,’ the broadcaster said.
The BBC has recently dropped the use of ‘militant’ to describe Hamas attackers and instead is continuing to describe the group as a terrorist organisation proscribed by the UK Government and others.
The broadcaster’s bosses had faced calls to review its editorial guidelines amid anger – including from Government ministers – at the corporation for not directly referring to Hamas as a terror organisation.
The guidelines state that journalists should not use the term terrorist without attribution – meaning it is permitted only when used by others – and that words such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’ and ‘militant’ should be used to describe perpertrators.
The 367-page document adds that terrorism ‘is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements’.
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