Senior Conservative MP Damian Green suggested the journalist’s “infamous monologue” on Dominic Cummings’ lockdown breaches had left many in the party to consider her to have been biased in her coverage. The corporation was forced to apologise in May 2020 after Newsnight opened with a speech that said the former Downing Street chief of staff had “broken the rules” and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot”.
MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee this morning quizzed bosses of the corporation after weeks of accusations of scandal and bias in its reporting.
On Sunday Morning the launch of the BBC’s new flagship politics show, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, was derailed after left-wing comedian Joe Lycett used his position as a guest to mock the Tory party.
The corporation also faced criticism after for a series of crass insults being made about Boris Johnson and Ms Liz Truss on the comedy panel show Have I Got News for You on Friday.
Mr Green’s attack on Ms Maitlis came after last month she accused a BBC board member of being an “active agent of the Conservative party”, shaping the broadcaster’s news output.
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She accused Sir Robbie Gibb, who was formerly Downing Street Director of Communications for Theresa May, of interfering.
Delivering the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival she also said that the BBC had “sought to pacify” Downing Street by issuing a swift apology for her Dominic Cummings remarks.
She said the introduction received “way more attention than in truth it ever deserved”.
Facing repeated questioning from Labour MPs in the committee about her comments, the corporation’s director-general Tim Davie, who was not in post at the time, said he stood by the BBC’s decision to apologise for its coverage of the Dominic Cummings affair.
“In terms of Newsnight, the BBC is clear, it stands by the decision it made by the way,” he told MPs.
“I was not director-general at the time, but I think it’s absolutely the right decision, unequivocally”.
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He added: “Emily is an outstanding journalist, I respect her opinion but we disagree on this.”
BBC chairman Richard Sharp said the former employee had been wrong to have “led with her opinions”.
He said: “She led with her opinions and as a great journalist, it wasn’t that her instincts were wrong, the issue is how the BBC does what it does, which is we have to provide the facts in an impartial way to the audience and allow them to draw their own opinions”.
Asking questions of his own to the BBC bosses, Ms Green commented: “I’m struck by how most the flack you’ve been taking this morning has been from the left based on Emily Maitlis, who I suspect some of my colleagues might regard as an active Labour agent for at least some of the time she was at the BBC.
“Certainly when she was doing that famous, or infamous, monologue.”
Ms Maitlis left Newsnight earlier this year after kore than 20 years at the broadcater.
She joined rival media group Global, which owns LBC radio.
She now works with her ex-BBC colleagues Lewis Goodall and Jon Sopel co-hosting a new politics podcast.