BBC director-general Lord Hall says people still trust the broadcaster, despite accusations of election bias

Ellen Manning
Lord Hall, director-general of the BBC. (Ben Stansall – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Lord Hall, director-general of the BBC, insists people still trust the broadcaster. (Ben Stansall – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

People still trust the BBC, its director-general has insisted, despite the broadcaster coming under fire over alleged political bias in the run-up to the general election.

Lord Tony Hall said the fact the BBC had received complaints from both the left and the right of politics showed it was unbiased.

But he did say the institution would “improve” in some areas.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hall praised the BBC’s election coverage, saying: “Around 27 million people in the UK came to the BBC website to find out about the election results. It was a reminder of the trust people place in the BBC.”

He added: “The fact criticism came from all sides of the political divide shows to me that we were doing our job without fear or favour.”

The outside of a BBC building in central London. (Getty)
The BBC has faced criticism over its coverage in the run-up to the general election. (Getty)

Lord Hall’s comments come just weeks after a YouGov poll found that nearly half of people in the UK think BBC News journalists don't tell the truth.

Labour MP Andy McDonald has accused the BBC of “consciously” playing a part in his party’s election disaster.

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Newsreader Huw Edwards has previously dismissed claims of bias at the corporation and said such accusations were designed to cause “chaos and confusion”.

The News At Ten presenter said: “You realise yet again that the real purpose of many of the attacks is to undermine trust in institutions which have been sources of stability over many decades.”

The BBC's Director of News, Fran Unsworth, speaks outside the Rolls Building in London, after Sir Cliff Richard was awarded more than £200,000 in damages after winning his High Court privacy battle against the BBC over its coverage of a police search of his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
BBC director of news Fran Unsworth doesn't necessarily agree with Lord Hall. (Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

But his and Lord Hall’s sentiments are not necessarily shared by other BBC colleagues.

Head of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth has previously said: “I don’t necessarily subscribe to the view that if we get complaints from both sides we are doing something right.”

Lord Hall added: “Yes, of course we faced some criticism. That is to be expected as the national broadcaster. Where we can and need to improve, we will.”

Lord Hall’s comments come amid questions over the future of the BBC, with Boris Johnson reportedly looking into consulting on whether people who do not pay the £154.50 licence fee for watching television or BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service should be prosecuted.

But Sarah Sands, editor of Today on BBC Radio 4, accused the government of a “Trumpian” attempt to delegitimise the public broadcaster after ministers were barred from appearing on the programme.

She told Radio 4’s Feedback programme: “[The government] sees Labour in disarray and it thinks it’s a pretty good time to put the foot on the windpipe of an independent broadcaster.”