Emily Maitlis's 'Newsnight' Dominic Cummings speech investigated by Ofcom
Emily Maitlis’s Newsnight monologue about Dominic Cummings’s breach of lockdown rules is under investigation by Ofcom.
In an opening monologue on the current affairs programme back in May, the 50-year-old newsreader accused Boris Johnson of “blind loyalty” as she addressed the “deep national disquiet” caused by the then-government adviser’s actions.
The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit ruled in September that the monologue did breach the corporation’s strict rules on impartiality and accuracy. However, it said no further action would be taken.
Ofcom has now been contacted by a complainant who was not satisfied with the BBC’s decision, and is looking into the matter further.
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Chief executive of the broadcasting regulator Dame Melanie Dawes told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee she was “aware of the BBC’s handling of the complaints and in fact they are now with Ofcom, so they are subject to our decision making at the moment”.
The BBC received tens of thousands of complaints both for and against Maitlis and was quick to admit her comment broke its rules on impartiality.
It said in a statement earlier this year: “We believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality.”
Maitlis opened the current affairs programme on 26 May by saying: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.”
She added: “Tonight we consider what this blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10. We do not expect to be joined by a government minister, but it won’t stop us asking the questions.”
Cummings, at the time a senior aide to Johnson, faced public scrutiny after it emerged he drove 260 miles from London to his parents’ home in Durham during lockdown.
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He then said in a press conference that he and his wife had believed they were coming down with coronavirus and needed help caring for their son.
He also claimed a 30-mile trip from Durham to local beauty spot Barnard Castle was in order to test his eyesight before he made the long drive back to London.
During the first national lockdown the government initially asked people not to leave their homes except for essential food shopping, medical treatment, to go to work if they were unable to work from home, and once a day for exercise.
If anyone was showing symptoms, everyone in their household was asked to stay at home for 14 days’ isolation to prevent spread of the disease.
Cummings left his post as a political adviser in Downing Street in November after a reported dispute with the prime minister over Brexit negotiations.
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