MP criticises Fiona Bruce after Question Time domestic violence comments

Fiona Bruce on the set of Question Time (Richard Lewisohn/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
Fiona Bruce on the set of Question Time (Richard Lewisohn/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

A Labour MP has accused Fiona Bruce of trivialising “violence against women” after a discussion on Question Time.

The presenter was chairing the weekly politics show when one of the guests, journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, described former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father Stanley as “a wife beater”.

Bruce then explained to the audience: “Stanley Johnson’s wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and she had ended up in hospital as a result.

“Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen, it was a one off.”

That exchange prompted MP Kate Osborne to tweet: “ #InternationalWomensDay this week and #bbcqt Fiona Bruce trivalises violence against women: Stanley Johnsons friends say “it was a one off” that he broke his wife’s nose Disgraceful.”

It comes after reports earlier in the week that Mr Johnson may be knighted in his son’s honours list.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had called the prospect “ridiculous”, telling LBC Radio: “The idea of an ex-prime minister bestowing honours on his dad – for services to what?”

He added: “The idea that Boris Johnson is nominating his dad for a knighthood – you only need to say it to realise just how ridiculous it is.

“It’s classic of a man like Johnson. I mean, I think the public will just think this is absolutely outrageous.”

Speaking on Question Time alongside Ms Alibhai-Brown, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: “As a principal, is it wise for a prime minister to nominate a member of their own family for an honour? No, absolutely not.”

Mr Jenrick later added: “My personal view is it isn’t sensible for a former prime minister to nominate members of their own family for honours.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “Domestic abuse is abhorrent, and we would never wish to suggest otherwise. When serious allegations are made on air against people or organisations, it is the job of BBC presenters to ensure that the context of those allegations – and any right of reply from the person or organisation – is given to the audience, and this is what Fiona was doing last night. She was not expressing any personal opinion about this situation.”