The BBC has dismissed complaints Laura Kuenssberg leapt to the defence of Dominic Cummings once news broke of his coronavirus lockdown trip to Durham.
On Friday night, Daily Mirror political editor Pippa Crerar tweeted her story that Cummings was investigated by police after he drove 250 miles from London to stay with his parents during the height of the coronavirus lockdown.
Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, responded to the tweet by quoting a “source” as saying it was “not true” that police spoke to him. She also said Cummings and his wife were staying in a separate building at the property.
PM's chief adviser did travel from London to County Durham during lockdown when he and his wife had coronavirus to stay in a separate building at his family's farm, a source close to him confirms - source says it is not true that he was spoken to by police ... https://t.co/v8foQb9rL5
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 22, 2020
The corporation subsequently received complaints from people claiming she had defended Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.
However, in a statement published on Wednesday, the BBC insisted Kuenssberg was not writing in defence of Cummings and that she was “simply reporting information from a source”.
The full statement reads:
“As the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg’s role is to provide our audiences with an impartial analysis of key political developments, based on her knowledge and expert judgment, and she often uses social media as a tool in her day-to-day work.
“We don’t consider that Laura was tweeting in defence of Dominic Cummings.
“Laura was simply reporting information from a source, and we believe this was clearly stated in her tweet.
“A key part of Laura’s job is to reflect views from many different parties in any given news story, which she did throughout her reporting and in her Twitter posts, during Friday evening and the rest of the weekend.
“This was clearly a big news story that was unfolding quickly, and we believe Laura reflected a lot of different views, whilst also establishing the facts and accurately reporting the many details of the story.
“BBC staff are always reminded never to present their own personal views on social media, within the fields in which they work. We’re happy that this wasn’t the case with Laura here.”
The BBC did not say how many complaints it received about Kuenssberg’s tweet.
Two days after the tweet, Kuenssberg was face-to-face with Cummings as he held a Downing Street press conference to explain his actions.
"Do you regret what you did?" asks @BBCLauraK
"No," says the PM's chief adviser Dominic Cummings who adds, "I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances"
Updates: https://t.co/ryxvHllGPH pic.twitter.com/86ciHkEk1w
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 25, 2020
Kuenssberg asked him whether he “regretted” what he did “because many people have made heartbreaking sacrifices... for some people it seems as if there was one version of the rules for you and one version of the rules for everyone else”.
Arguably the most high-profile political journalist in Westminster with 1.2 million followers on Twitter, she has come under repeated fire for her reporting during her five-year spell in the job.
Kuenssberg faced criticism during last year’s general election campaign when she amplified, and later retracted, a false claim that an aide to health secretary Matt Hancock had been punched by a Labour activist.
Kuenssberg was also accused of breaking electoral law when, one day before the election, she claimed postal ballots painted a “grim” picture for Labour.
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