BBC Says Jeremy Vine Breached Impartiality Guidelines With Low Traffic Neighbourhood Comments

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Jeremy Vine (Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)
Jeremy Vine (Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)

Jeremy Vine  (Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)

Jeremy Vine was spoken to by BBC bosses after breaching the corporation’s impartiality guidelines when backing the introduction of a low traffic neighbourhood in an area of London.

The presenter, who hosts a topical weekday show on BBC Radio 2, had criticised campaigners who objected to the introduction of a scheme in Chiswick, near where he lives.

A complainant claimed that tweets posted by Jeremy represented “a campaign of abuse” against a “legitimate local campaigning group”.

The BBC’s executive complaints unit (EBU) said that Jeremy had “primarily been responding to posts from a Facebook group superintended by the complainant, which had been drawn to his attention by member of the group, wishing him harm and describing him in opprobrious terms”.

While the EBU said he was “entitled to object to such personal abuse and, as he did so in terms which were not themselves abusive”, the complaint was not upheld.

However, it found Jeremy – who is famously a keen cyclist – did break impartiality guidelines with some of the views he expressed in his comments, which they said were “inconsistent with the BBC’s editorial standards”.

The EBU said on its website: “The Guidance makes clear that the BBC’s standards should be observed in personal social media activity, as well as on air, by those who work in journalism and factual programming, and the topical content of Mr Vine’s programme on Radio 2 brings him within that category.   The introduction of an LTN [low traffic neighbourhood] was a source of sharp controversy in Chiswick at the time in question, (mirroring controversies in other localities where LTNs have been introduced), and was the kind of topic to which considerations of due impartiality applied for the BBC.

“To the extent that Mr Vine’s Twitter activity since the relevant Guidance came into effect appeared to endorse one viewpoint on that topic and controvert another, it was inconsistent with the BBC’s editorial standards as they applied to him, and this aspect of the case was upheld.”

The EBU said the matter was discussed with Jeremy as well as being passed to the management of BBC Content.

The statement added: “For the avoidance of misunderstanding, the ECU made clear to the complainant that the finding had no bearing on any social media activity in which Mr Vine simply expressed his personal enthusiasm for cycling or called attention to its potential benefits.”

Jeremy, who also hosts a morning talk show for Channel 5, previously expressed his view that discussing cycling safety “is not a political thing”, telling the Guardian earlier this month: “If you can create safe cycling space, you have the potential to free up thousands of miles of the transport network, and cleaning up the city, making it safer.”

He added: “I think the general principle is, I can speak truthfully and from my own point of view about issues like cycling down this street, which I do every day, or road deaths. We’re not impartial about road death – it’s a bad thing, and cycle safety is a good thing, and it’s clear that the more segregated cycle lanes you have, the safer cyclists are.”

The paper noted that Jeremy also said he does not publicly endorse low-traffic neighbourhood schemes he has never seen.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.