Huw Edwards defends himself over claims of political bias after he liked Labour NHS advert

Harriet Brewis
Huw Edwards will lead the BBC's election coverage: BBC

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards has defended himself against accusations of political bias after he “liked” a tweet saying: “Vote Labour for the National Health Service.”

The Welshman was criticised by Conservative candidate David Davis for endorsing the party’s post, in light of the BBC’s strict impartiality guidelines.

The former Brexit secretary told the Sun: “I’ve known Huw for a long time and he’s been very professional with me but this is a disappointing lapse in judgement on his part.

“He knows the BBC’s highly salaried members should keep their political opinions to themselves.”

Mr Edwards later addressed the allegations, insisting he had not seen the “vote Labour” message at the end.

But he said he would "never apologise" for being supportive of the NHS.

He wrote on Twittter: "Yeah I liked a tweet which seemed to be a celebration of our wonderful @nhs —apologies for not watching right to the end.

“But apologise for supporting the NHS? Never."

He added: "EXCLUSIVE — my family owes it a huge debt."

Huw Edwards will lead the BBC's election coverage (BBC)

The divisive Labour tweet consists of a two-minute, 18-second video clip, featuring a woman who was the first baby ever born into the NHS.

Describing the health service as “the jewel in our crown” she goes on to say: “I do feel if the Conservatives come into power again we will lose our NHS.”

The clip ends: “Our NHS is on the table in this election. Vote Labour for the National Health Service, please.”

The BBC’s guidelines state that its news presenters and reporters “must not state or reveal publicly how they vote or express support for any political party.”

However, a spokesperson for the corporation said in response to Mr Edwards’ behaviour: “Likes and retweets are not the same as endorsements.”

It comes just two days after BBC News named Mr Edwards as lead presenter for its 2019 election night coverage.

Making the announcement, Director of News Fran Unsworth said in a statement: "Huw is the perfect presenter to have at the helm as a trusted and authoritative guide throughout election night.

"This is one of the most important - and unpredictable - elections for years. The BBC’s aim is simple: we want to give audiences the information they need to help them decide how to cast their vote.

"In polarised times, the BBC is here for everyone in the UK.”