BBC had ‘deep liberal bias’ over immigration, says former news chief

Trust finds corporation reflects range of views, but Helen Boaden says coverage was skewed when she took up role in 2004.

Helen Boaden: the former BBC director of news has said the corporation had a ‘deep liberal bias’ in its coverage of immigration when she took up her role in 2004.

Helen Boaden, the BBC’s former news director, has admitted the corporation held a “deep liberal bias” in its coverage of immigation when she took up the role in 2004.

Boaden, who is now the BBC’s head of radio, made the candid admission to a BBC Trust review into the impartiality of the corporation’s coverage of immigration, religion and the European Union.

She told the review, published on Wednesday, that the BBC did not take the views of lobby group Migration Watch “as seriously as it might have” when she became director of news in September 2004.

Boaden is the latest BBC executive to state publicly that the corporation had a liberal bias on controversial topics such as immigration – an accusation it routinely faces from rightwing sections of the media.

Ceri Thomas, the acting deputy director of BBC News and former Today editor, was more measured when asked about the BBC’s coverage. He told the review: “Any culture can be at risk of excluding what it thinks is wrong, possibly marginalising significant chunks of public opinion. We need to push against this consensus every day.”

The frank remarks were included in a 67-page report by the BBC Trust which concluded overall that the BBC reflects a broad range of voices on immigration.


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