BBC slammed as 'irresponsible' for having Nigel Farage on Newsnight to talk about coronavirus

Bonnie Christian

The BBC has been slammed as “irresponsible” over its decision to interview Nigel Farage on Newsnight about the coronavirus outbreak.

Monday night’s episode interviewed a range of guests about whether the government should be doing more to tackle the spread COVID-19 in the UK.

Brexit Party leader Mr Farage criticised Boris Johnson’s response to the outbreak during an interview with Political Editor Nicholas Watt, claiming it was “bordering on negligent.”

“This disease is spreading very, very quickly in Milan,” he said.

Nigel Farage said Boris Johnson's response to the coronavirus outbreak was 'bordering on negligent' (BBC)

“I think to be just be carrying on with these flights coming in with no tests of any kind - initially we flew people in from Wuhan we put them in quarantine, we brought them back from the ship in Japan and we put them in quarantine (but) now we couldn’t care less and I think this is a real failure of leadership.”

He continued: “I think in a couple weeks time (if) we discover that many people have been infected in this country by travellers that have come back from northern Italy, there will be hell to pay.”

When asked about US President Donald Trump’s response to the outbreak, he said he could understand why he and Mr Johnson do not want to frighten people or crash the economy but advised both leaders to “study what is happening in Milan'' and “how bad it is becoming”.

But, many questioned the decision to have Mr Farage on the programme at all.

Labour candidate for Holme Valley North Harry McCarthy labelled the decision as "irresponsible", writing: “Why is Nigel Farage being interviewed about #COVID19 on #newsnight? He’s not an expert.

"Deeply irresponsible from the BBC.”

Author and commentator Gerry Hassan said it was a “strange choice” to have Mr Farage comment on Mr Johnson and Mr Trump’s response.

Director of journalism and publishing at London College of Communication Simon Hinde also questioned Mr Farage’s credentials in the field, saying: “Why is Newsnight asking Nigel Farage what he thinks about coronavirus?

"What expertise does he have? What relevant position does he hold?”

Freddie Whittaker, political editor at Schools Week, sarcastically tweeted: “Reassuring to see coronavirus expert Nigel Farage on newsnight”.

Author and Times journalist Sathnam Sanghera also criticised the move, adding: "People whose medical opinion I need before Nigel Farage's: 1. Big Bird; 2. Glenn madeiros; 3. supergran​; 4. The late Bernard Matthews; 5. An actual stick; 6. Lembit Opik​; 7. A Cheeky girl; 8. 2 Unlimited."

Paul Bernal, a UEA Associate Professor in Law, addede: "The BBC: ‘save us, save us, you’ll miss us when we’re gone’. Also the BBC: ‘I know, let’s put Nigel Farage on Newsnight to talk about the Corona Virus."

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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