BBC defends Andrew Neil against charges of political bias

The BBC responded to columnist Owen Jones's accusation that political broadcaster Neil "reserves his ideological assaults for the left"

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 03/01/2012 - Programme Name: Daily Politics - TX: 09/01/2012 - Episode: Daily Politics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Andrew Neil presents Daily Politics on Friday. Andrew Neil - (C) BBC - Photographer: Jeff Overs

The BBC has defended This Week presenter Andrew Neil against charges of political bias.

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Columnist and activist Owen Jones wrote in The Guardian that while Neil has been an effective interviewer of both left and right wing politicians on air, he “reserves his ideological assaults for the left”, arguing that the BBC is wrong for employing “the ultra-Thatcherite former Sunday Times editor”.

However, a statement from BBC News rejected claims of political bias, saying that Neil “is an excellent interviewer who’s bound by exactly the same rules of on-air impartiality as every other BBC journalist”.

Jones claimed in his column that “while Neil will fillet politicians on both left and right on the basis of competence, he reserves his ideological assaults for the left, ridiculing Corbyn over Russia – which one would expect on US TV networks, where impartiality rules do not apply.”

He said that the idea of the BBC employing a figure with a left wing background would be “unthinkable”, arguing that “BBC political output remains framed by rightwing assumptions”.

Neil said on Twitter that he ‘did not intend to respond’ to Jones’s article directly, saying, “He’s clearly campaigning to have me fired from the BBC”.

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Neil left the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme last year, although he continues to present Daily Politics and This Week alongside other BBC projects.