The BBC presenter Evan Davis has been forced to issue a response to the “ridiculous” claims by Labour supporters that he once campaigned with an extreme far-Right group.
Mr Davis, who presents Newsnight and Dragons’ Den, has been challenged over an image which shows him standing beside two senior members of Britain First who were this year jailed for a series of hate crimes against Muslims.
The photograph, taken two years ago, shows him smiling alongside Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding, and was seized upon by several pro-Corbyn supporters as evidence of political bias.
Mr Golding, who was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison in March, published the picture on Twitter with the caption: “out campaigning today with Evan Davis, Britain First supporter and News Night [sic] presenter!”
Last night Mr Davis attempted to explain to social media users that the pair, who he did not recognise, had in fact approached him when he walking in south London and asked to pose for a picture with him.
Just missed my tube stop reading tweets from people thinking that I'm a secret far right racist (and one who's happy to be used in Britain First campaigning material). It is so ridiculous that I haven't wanted to dignify it by saying any more than my original clarification.— Evan Davis (@EvanHD) August 16, 2018
Mr Davis said the accusations levelled against him had been “so ridiculous” he had been reluctant to “dignify it” with a more detailed explanation, but now felt compelled to.
“Over two years ago, I was walking in Kennington when two people who I didn't know jumped out of a van and said "can we have a selfie?" That is a not very remarkable event,” he wrote on Twitter.
“So I said yes and smiled with them as I ordinarily would. An hour later, I'm at the local flower show (*this is not made up, my partner was the judge) and I got a call from my editor "we have a W1A situation".
“It was explained to me who was in the photo and how it was used. So I clarified in a tweet (or thought I had clarified) that I had merely posed for an innocent selfie. But for avoidance of doubt, I did not know who they were.
“But to be clear: the photo isn't a fake; it's the attempt to read my politics into it that's wrong. Overall, I think if I was a happy clappy far right racist, I'd avoid posing for photos with racists. Or campaigning publicly with them, as it would breach my BBC contract.”
However, his explanation was rejected by a number of people using the hashtag “#JC4PM” - a sign of support for Jeremy Corbyn.
One Twitter user, Danni Phillips, replied: “Didn’t know who they were? Irrelevant? Don’t support them just because you were photographed with them? Irrelevant? Think it’s ridiculous? Irrelevant. You still haven’t answered the question. Will you apologise for supporting Britain First? Familiar pattern?”