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News > United Kingdom

UK Labour Issues Complaint Exposing Bias in BBC's Documentary on Corbyn's ‘Anti-semitism’

  • BBC offices in Leeds

    BBC offices in Leeds | Photo: Flickr

Published 11 July 2019

The show follows years of accusations that Jeremy Corbyn’s support for the Palestine solidarity movement is a form anti-semitism.

Britain’s Labour Party is launching “all-out war” against BBC over a documentary it aired Wednesday the party says misrepresented facts and edited documents so as to present Jeremy Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights as anti-semitic. 


The Neo-Liberal Roots of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Anti-Semitism Crisis’

The BBC’s flagship investigative documentary show ‘Panorama’ aired a documentary titled  'Is Labour Anti-Semitic?'. Following years of accusations that Jeremy Corbyn’s support for the Palestine solidarity movement is a form anti-semitism. Labour’s say that the documentary unfairly attacked the party and manipulated evidence against them. 

Among the first problems, in Labour’s view, is that the documentary is in breach of BBC impartiality rules, due to the fact that it was produced by a former journalist at the right-wing Murdoch owned newspaper The Sun.

John Ware, presented the show and is known for his pro-Israel views. In 2007 he was successfully sued by a Muslim charity in Britain after wrongly accusing them in media reports of being a front for terrorists. He’s since been described by the Muslim Council of Britain as a ‘“an agenda-driven pro-Israel polemicist“.

Labour is also accusing the BBC of using doctored evidence to argue that the party leadership has failed to properly deal with anti-semitism cases.

In the documentary, an email from Corbyn’s director of communications is shown, which read, “something’s going wrong, and we’re muddling up political disputes with racism,” implying that he was dismissive of accusations rather than taking them seriously.

After the show, Labour published the full email which read; “Having identified the subject of the complaint as a “Jewish activist, the son of Holocaust survivor… if we’re more than very occasionally using disciplinary action against Jewish members for anti-Semitism, something’s going wrong and we’re muddling up political disputes with racism.”. Financial Times journalist Jim Pickard commented via Twitter that “The quotation does appear to have a totally different meaning when taken in its entirety....”

Furthermore, the majority of testimonies presented against Labour was from disgruntled ex-staff members from the pre-Corbyn era who are hostile to the party’s shift to the left in 2015. This includes former General Secretary Iain Mcnicol who played a role in trying to keep Corbyn off the ballot paper in previous leadership elections.

Only two independent "experts" on anti-semitism were interviewed, however, both had a record of impartiality. First was Dave Rich, Co-Director of Communications for the Community Security Trust, a Jewish NGO, which regards boycotting Israel as a form of anti-semitism.

Following Rich, was Alan Johnson, of BICOM, the foremost pro-Israel lobby group in Britain, who run the ‘We Believe in Israel’ campaign that has been linked to the Israeli embassy. 

Labour has condemned the show and BBC’s journalistic standards, saying, “The reliance on a series of politically partisan and hostile interviewees and informants on a highly sensitive political issue in current domestic politics – without, from what we understand, a range of interviewees with an alternative perspective – shows every sign of breaching the BBC’s obligations and own editorial guidelines to be fair, balanced and even-handed in political controversy.” 

The BBC has responded saying, “The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty… The programme [Panorama] adhered to the BBC’s editorial guidelines, including a full right of reply for the Labour Party.”

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