BBC reprimands Question Time producer over far right social media posts

Audience producer a centre of controversy over Britain First media posts

THE AUDIENCE PRODUCER for the BBC news debate show Question Time has been “reminded” by the BBC of the corporation’s guidelines regarding social media use, after she shared Facebook posts by the far-right group Britain First.

Alison Fuller-Pedley, who works as an audience producer for the popular news panel program, which sees guests debate the issues of the day with audience participation, shared five of the far-right group’s Facebook posts exhorting support for the British armed forces and the wearing of the commemorative poppy. She also ‘liked’ a page called “British Patriotic Front”. Both Facebook pages carry extreme racist and ultra-British nationalist content.

Fuller-Pedley’s job gives her responsibility over organising the participating audience for the programme.

Speaking to CommonSpace, a BBC spokesperson said: “The Question Time audience is always chosen by a team to ensure broad political balance and each application goes through the same rigorous background checks. Any suggestion to the contrary is misleading.

“The BBC has clear impartiality guidelines covering the use of personal social media - this freelance producer and the rest of the programme team have been reminded of their responsibilities.”

Fuller-Pedley works for Mentorn Media, which is commissioned by the BBC to create the Question Time programme.

“The BBC has clear impartiality guidelines covering the use of personal social media - this freelance producer and the rest of the programme team have been reminded of their responsibilities.” BBC

The BBC guidelines on social media use for its own staff includes guidance clauses dealing with the joining of online groups, the sharing of material from social media groups and expressing political opinions.

Tweets shared from facebook page of far right group Britain First by Fuller-Pedley

Clause ‘f’ states: “Sharing or retweeting material from other people is part of what social media is all about - but consider that it can give the appearance of endorsement by you or the BBC, so context might well be needed.”

Clause ‘e’ states: “Usually it’s possible for anyone to see the individuals, issues or organisations that you choose to ‘friend’ or follow on social media. Consider the impression given by those choices, especially if they’re contentious or partisan, and relevant to stories you cover.”

Clause ‘d’ states: “You shouldn't state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don't sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don't be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute.”

Britain First is renowned for harvesting social media users with populist rightwing rhetoric, and its social media strategy has been the subject of numerous investigations.

Both on and offline, the group uses aggressive and confrontational tactics, such as wearing political uniforms, entering Mosques in numbers and marching through Muslim majority areas with crucifixes.

The BBC said that Fuller-Pedley has informed her employer at Mentorn that the posts were shared “unwittingly”. The BBC also stated that Fuller-Pedley had no influence over panellists, though it did not respond to questions about her influence in selecting audience members.

Fuller-Pedley was contacted for reaction to the BBC comments but had not responded by time of publication.

Picture courtesy of UK Parliament

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