Tuesday, 27 Jul 2021

Emily Maitlis blasts BBC’s ‘priorities’ after it apologised for her tirade on Cummings

Emily Maitlis says Dominic Cummings 'broke the rules' in 2020

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The well-known face of the popular programme was speaking after the Beeb issued a swift apology for her tirade against Dominic Cummings over his decision to break lockdown rules by driving to Barnard Castle. She argued it took “up to three decades” for the public service broadcaster to investigate Martin Bashir over his controversial interview of Princess Diana.

However, when it came to dealing with her performance, the BBC acted in a much more rushed manner.

Within 24 hours of the programme being aired, the BBC had issued an apology, saying the introduction “did not meet our standards of due impartiality”.

In an interview with Press Gazette, Ms Maitlis compared the Beeb’s reaction to how it dealt with the fallout from Mr Bashir’s famous 1995 royal interview.

She said: “It’s funny to see something like [the Cummings apology statement] happen so quickly when a corporation can take up to three decades to investigate serious journalistic malfeasance and critical management failings in the Bashir investigation.

“So I think it’s all a question of priority, really, isn’t it?”

She stood by her report, saying she “did not regret” her words.

And she said a year on no one at the BBC has “explained to me what was journalistically inaccurate about that”.

Last summer 23,000 complaints flooded into the BBC over her scathing review of Mr Cumming’s behaviour.

It came amid huge national outcry over Mr Cummings’ conduct while working at No10.

After being caught breaking Covid restrictions, the then-top aide to Boris Johnson admitted he had travelled to Barnard Castle from his home 30 miles away, shunning the Government’s rules on staying local.

The Newsnight presenter told viewers: “‘Dominic Cummings broke the rules.

“The country can see that and it’s shocked the Government cannot.

“The longer ministers and the PM tell us he worked within them, the more angry the response to the scandal is likely to be.

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“He was the man, remember, who always ‘got’ the public mood, who 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.”

She finished off her opening segment by saying she would examine what she called Number 10’s “blind loyalty” to Mr Cummings.

Mr Cummings, who has since left No10, hit the headlines again this week over his interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

He claimed there had been talk of removing Mr Johnson from No10 within weeks of his December 2019 election victory.

In the explosive interview Mr Cummings accused Mr Johnson of not having a plan and alleged that he “doesn’t know how to be Prime Minister”.

Mr Cummings, a key figure in the Vote Leave campaign of 2016, added: “We only got him in there because we had to solve a certain problem, not because he was the right person to be running the country.”

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, staunchly defended her boss.

She was adamant she had not heard any conversations about removing Mr Johnson.

Speaking about Mr Cummings’ interview, she said: “Sadly I haven’t had time to watch it, and I don’t think I will be finding any time to watch it for the next millennium either.”

Asked if there was any need for Mr Johnson to be removed from Downing Street, Ms Truss stated: “The Prime Minister is doing a fantastic job of leading the country, we’ve had a very successful roll out here in the United Kingdom, we are working hard to build back the economy after Covid.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment. 

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