In Brief

BBC Newsnight editor accused of ‘off the scale’ bias after New Statesman cover story

Policy editor Lewis Goodall attacked for article on the exam grading mayhem

A BBC journalist has been accused of bias after writing a New Statesman cover story on the government’s handling of the exam crisis.

Lewis Goodall, policy editor on BBC Newsnight, authored the piece for the left-wing political magazine in which he described how “a government led by technocrats nearly destroyed a generation of social mobility”. 

Attention was drawn to the article by Robbie Gibb, a former head of BBC Westminster and Downing Street director of communications, who tweeted

In the piece Goodall, a university Labour activist who worked for the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank before joining Sky News and later the BBC, “laid the problems at the door of the prime minister’s senior adviser” Dominic Cummings, The Telegraph says.

Goodall wrote that while “we cannot know the extent of Dominic Cummings’ involvement in this sorry episode, and it may be that he was not part of it at all... his approach encapsulates a method of governing that was on full display throughout”.

The piece was agreed upon by senior BBC figures, who said that it fell within the broadcaster’s impartiality guidelines.

The article was also not without its defenders on social media, with journalist Ian Fraser tweeting that “Goodall is doing a brilliant job of holding the UK government’s feet to the fire over its handling of the Covid-19 crisis”.

The Times columnist David Aaronovitch also suggested that Gibb “should stop” undermining the BBC with attacks on its impartiality, while presenter Jeremy Vine added that Goodall “doesn’t design the cover and write the headlines”.

A number of social media users pointed out that political interviewer Andrew Neil is the chair of the right-wing political magazine The Spectator, while also holding a BBC presenting role.

And others suggested that Gibb’s impartiality should be questioned after he transitioned from covering politics at the broadcaster to working inside 10 Downing Street under Theresa May.

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