BBC’s Nick Robinson responds to ‘controversy’ over his David Cameron interview

BBC presenter Nick Robinson has said he “should have been clearer” when describing Israeli attacks in Gaza as “murders” that it was not his view or that of the corporation.

Robinson addressed the pushback he received on words he used when interviewing the Foreign Secretary on Monday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

During the show, he questioned Lord David Cameron on Britain’s position after Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend.

Following the interview, Robinson wrote on X: “There’s been some controversy about words I used when I was interviewing the Foreign Secretary @David_Cameron on @bbcr4today about Israel this morning.

“My final question was about the perceived ‘morality’ of the government’s position – in particular the ‘risk’ that their position could ‘appear’ to look like active support for Israel when it is under attack but nothing other than words ‘when Israel attacks or murders tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians’.

“I should have been clearer that I was not expressing my own view, let alone that of the BBC when I used the words ‘murders’.

“In this 15-minute long interview I asked the Foreign Secretary why ministers had supported Israel militarily; why they didn’t go further & support Israel in confronting Iran; why they weren’t tougher in confronting Israel over Gaza and ended with that question about the perceived ‘morality’ and the ‘risk’ of how the government’s position ‘appears’.

“It was a lengthy and detailed exploration of the policy choices made by the government.”

Robinson said he wanted to end the interview with a “question of morality”, adding: “You will know, I think you’ve talked about, the fact that the West has been perceived to lose the argument, with even many of its own people, ever since the war of terror began.

“Isn’t the real risk of where we are now, that Western governments appear to back Israel the moment that Israel is under attack, but when Israel attacks and murders tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians, we say the words but we do almost nothing?”

The former prime minister replied: “I don’t think that’s right at all. I think, actually, over this weekend and into this week, people can see that the truly malign actor in the region is Iran. A country that has launched a state-on-state attack… for the first time since the Islamic revolution in 1979.”

After the interview aired, Conversative MP Theresa Villiers branded Robinson’s words “shocking bias” in an interview with The Sun, and called for an “immediate investigation”.

Downing Street said Rishi Sunak would not use “murder” to describe events in Gaza and that people should be “careful with their words”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Impartiality, in reference to the BBC, is absolutely paramount. Complaints should be raised to the BBC, to Ofcom in the usual ways if people feel they have issue with the way in which the BBC reported that.

“More broadly, though, Israel is an ally of the UK, is the victim of a brutal terror attack and clearly has a right to defend itself.

“We should all be careful with our words at this time, particularly given heightened community tensions in the UK.”

The unprecedented attack by Iran, which it said was in retaliation against a strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month, has raised fears over the Israel-Hamas war spiralling into a wider regional conflagration.

The BBC has offered no further comment on Robinson’s statement.