BBC backs Jeremy Bowen in bias probe

By Marcus Dysch, August 27, 2009

The BBC has confirmed that a trustee who says he has “complete confidence” in Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen will be allowed to chair an investigation into complaints against the correspondent.

Richard Tait, head of the corporation’s Editorial Standards Committee, will lead the case considering allegations of inaccuracy and bias.

But on June 7, Mr Tait told Radio 4’s Feedback show: “We made it absolutely clear that we have complete confidence in Jeremy Bowen. We have confidence in him. We have complete confidence in the BBC’s news division and in the BBC’s impartiality in this area.”

The comments led London listener Stephen Franklin to complain to the BBC about Mr Tait’s role.

He said: “This is unacceptable. There is no way that Mr Tait can be impartial in hearing those appeals when he has so clearly made up his mind already.”

The BBC responded this week, saying the trustee remained impartial and had “not closed his mind to consideration of future complaints”.

In April, the BBC partially upheld complaints of inaccuracy and bias against Mr Bowen in an online article about the Six-Day War. Another complaint over a January 2008 radio broadcast he made about an Israeli settlement was also partially upheld.

    Last updated: 2:20pm, August 27 2009