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Letter to BBC Director General regarding Question Time and the EDL in Boston

Following allegations, Matt wrote to the Director General of the BBC, Lord Tony Hall. The full letter can be found below.

Dear Tony,

This Thursday, the BBC recorded Question Time in Boston. I’m always glad to see the BBC reporting from the unique constituency it is my privilege to represent in parliament, whether it’s on the excellent recent Newsnight special or the superb Radio Lincolnshire. But as a former journalist myself I know the value of fair and balanced reporting, be it from your staff or in the audiences recruited for your programmes.

So I was dismayed to see that Question Time’s Audience Producer sought actively to recruit the members and supporters not of mainstream political parties, but explicitly of the English Defence League, going on to a Facebook page for a march that was held in Boston on Saturday. I am reliably informed that other attempts were also made to reach out to this extreme, far-right group. I know none were made to Conservative supporters, or apparently to any other particular group beyond a general call to the public.

I am sure you want to see fair and balanced audiences on your flagship programmes as much as I do. Boston, in particular, is a much misrepresented town thanks to its voting, calmly and understandably, so overwhelmingly to leave the EU. We have, since the vote, seen none of the violence sadly suffered elsewhere, and yet by seeking to disproportionately represent the far-right, Question Time risked fanning the flames of division across the country, of further misrepresenting a great town and perhaps worst of all giving the impression that abhorrent views are widespread enough to be acceptable. Not one of those is fitting behaviour from the world’s greatest broadcaster.

The people of Boston have a right to know why the BBC thought it was appropriate to traduce the town, and the whole Question Time audience, I believe, deserves an apology – if a special effort is made to invite extreme groups, everyone should be told.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Warman MP

Reporting on the allegations can be found in The Telegraph on Monday 4th October 2016 titled “BBC accused of encouraging racial tension by trying to get English Defence League to appear in the audience on Question Time“. (Link to article)

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