Emily Maitlis is 'extraordinarily aggressive and intimidating', says Tory MP

File photo dated 11/09/18 of Emily Maitlis, who will not present Wednesday's episode of Newsnight after the BBC ruled the programme breached impartiality rules over its coverage of the Dominic Cummings lockdown row.
Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski said he had turned down appearing on Newsnight on Tuesday because of Emily Maitlis. (PA)

A Tory MP has branded Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis ‘aggressive, rude, biased and confrontational’.

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said he had declined an interview on Dominic Cummings on the programme on Tuesday night because he found Maitlis “confrontational to point of intimidation” and said such behaviour “would not be tolerated in any normal workplace”.

His comments come as Maitlis was replaced on Wednesday’s edition of Newsnight following remarks she made about the Dominic Cummings row the previous night.

The BBC ruled that the programme breached impartiality rules in its coverage of Boris Johnson’s chief aide’s trip to Durham with his wife and child during lockdown.

In a tweet on Wednesday night, Kawczynski said: “I had to decline Newsnight interview last night on Mr Cummings as I find @maitlis to be extraordinarily aggressive,unnecessarily rude, biased & confrontational to point of intimidation.

“This behaviour would not be tolerated in any normal workplace so why do we accept from #BBC.”

Maitlis’ absence from Newsnight on Wednesday has sparked controversy, with many voicing concern that the presenter appeared to have been let down by her bosses.

The presenter has since said that she asked to take the night off rather than being removed.

Read more: Author and anchor Emily Maitlis has become Newsnight’s most recognisable face

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "At a time of national crisis, frank and fearless journalism that scrutinises and holds this government to account is more necessary than ever.”

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan also backed Maitlis, accusing the BBC of “chucking one of its best journalists under the bus for telling the truth”, while journalist and former Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason tweeted: "Every word Maitlis said was true: truth is the criterion of real journalism.”

In her introduction to Tuesday's show, Maitlis said Cummings had "broken the rules" and "the country can see that, and it's shocked the government cannot”.

She said: "The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us he worked within [the rules], the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.

"He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of elite on those who disagreed.

"He should understand that public mood now – one of fury, contempt and anguish.”

Read more: Daniel Kawczynski reprimanded for conference talk alongside far-right figures

In a statement on Wednesday, the BBC said the introduction “did not meet our standards of due impartiality” and said staff had been “reminded of the guidelines” around impartiality following the broadcast.

Katie Razzall presented Wednesday night’s edition of the programme, but the BBC has since said that Maitlis was not prevented from fronting it.

Razzall also said her fellow presenter had “not been asked by the BBC to take tonight off”, adding that she “certainly wouldn't have agreed to present the show” if she thought that was the case.

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