After must obfuscation from the BBC Press Office, the corporation has finally admitted that the communist trade union organiser Nigel Flanagan was contacted by Panorama during the programme’s production. Initially the BBC’s statement ignored Flannagan completely. When pressed further by Guido they issued a non-denial denial:
“On Nigel Flanagan, I can tell you that we talk to a wide variety of people in the course of our journalism, but none of the interviewees on Monday’s programme was sourced via him.”
Finally this afternoon the BBC has now admitted that the production team had in fact spoken with Flanagan, telling Guido “We’re not denying the production spoke to him.” They do, however claim that “none of the interviewees came via him”. So why did they speak to him in the first place, and why did they not address this in their initial statement?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock took the opportunity of yesterday’s Downing Street briefing to slam the BBC’s Panorama programme, saying “I’m not sure that they were a fair and objective journalistic assessment of the situation.” Panorama interviewed six Labour Party activists without informing the audience of the political background of a single participant. In contravention of the BBC’s own Editorial Guidelines which state under ‘Contributors’ Affiliations’ that:
”Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints should be made available to the audience, when relevant to the context.”
The rules were completely ignored, with audiences not given a hint of the Labour Party candidates, union officials, and general election campaign broadcast stars that they lined up to interview. Not many doctors currently have the time to be obsessive political activists. Who could have rounded up these left-wing campaigners?
Guido can reveal that one self-described “militant” “communist” and, former UNISON official and now “worldwide union organiser”, Nigel Flanagan is boasting of being one of those Panorama spoke to to put the programme in touch with health workers.
Either the BBC went to a self-described communist to put them in touch with health workers, or a union official who is followed by the deputy leader of the Labour Party and Momentum liked the interviewees so much he’s boasting about being involved. The BBC has not yet responded to Guido’s request for comment…