BBC launches urgent probe into World News journalist

EXCLUSIVE: The JC outed the reporter as person behind anonymous account that promoted posts by Jackie Walker and Kerry-Anne Mendoza


The BBC has confirmed it has begun an urgent investigation into the conduct of a BBC World News journalist  after the JC revealed he had used an anonymous social media account to mount attacks on the presenter Emma Barnett after she spoke out on the impact of antisemitism on her family.

Nimesh Thaker – who has worked as a new reporter and producer at the Corporation for over 20 years  -  also used the Twitter account set up under the pseudonym Not That Bothered to support posts written by Kerry-Anne Mendoza and Jackie Walker, both of whom have been at the centre of antisemitism allegations.

And in further posts from the same account, the BBC reporter also suggested Israel was a “racist” and “white supremacist state” and branded the BBC Director General a “white male Tory”.

A statement issued on Wednesday after the JC published its report said: “The BBC takes allegations of this nature extremely seriously, and while we cannot comment on individual staff issues, we have robust processes in place to investigate any such matters with urgency.”

The JC’s initial report on Mr Thaker was published on Tuesday, the same day that the BBC’s new director-general Tom Davie started his new role.

In a bid to restore the corporation’s reputation for impartiality, Mr Davie - who replaces Lord Hall of Birkenhead – is expected to tell staff this week that journalists must not allow personal politics to impact on their work.

Oliver Dowden, the digital and culture secretary, has also warned the BBC must do more to “guard its unique selling point of impartiality”.

Asked to comment on the JC’s revelations about Mr Thaker, a source close to another Tory MP said, “this sounds par for the course”.

The JC has been given evidence showing that Mr Thaker used the Not That Bothered account to attempt to make contact with individuals  for reports he was making for the BBC – exposing the fact that he was behind the account.

Mr Thaker – who reported and produced for BBC World for over 20 years - was openly critical of BBC 5 Live presenter  Ms Barnett after she delivered a widely praised speech about the impact of the Holocaust on her family on the day that Twitter was being boycotted over its failure to act against rapper Wiley’s antisemitic outbursts.

Screenshots showed that the Not That Bothered account had retweeted a post sent to Ms Barnett which accused her of using “the same old ‘antisemitism’ excuse whenever people criticise Israel”.

In another tweet that same day,  the Not That Bothered account then made a reference to those who were supporting the 48-hour boycott.

Mr Thaker wrote: “Has the level of hate and political smearing just dropped on twitter or are racists on holiday at the moment?”

Not That Bothered next retweeted a post written by Jackie Walker, who was expelled by Labour over antisemitism, which accused some of the Twitter boycotters of being “Infamous” for “anti-black/Muslim racism.”

On another occasion, Mr Thaker appeared to support claims by the notorious editor of The Canary website Ms Mendoza when Not That Bothered retweeted an incendiary post suggesting  the “antisemitism witch-hunt” was heading for a “face-off” with the Black Lives Matters movement. The post also said: “those anti-Black, anti-Palestinian racists are gonna get their arses dragged all over town.”

Meanwhile another post written on Not That Bothered and tweeted on July 7 to the MediaGuido site said: “Guido doesn’t like black women to have an opinion.

“But white male tory as DG of the BBC is ok.”

Mr Davie - who replaces Lord Hall of Birkenhead in the director-general role – was previously the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, now BBC Studios.

He is known to be concerned about claims of political bias at the BBC – including accusations of left-wing bias in comedy shows..

And an incoming review into social media use by BBC staff conducted by former head of news Richard Sambrook is expected to be used to curtail the subjects that employees may weigh in on.

In May, a monologue from Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis lambasting Dominic Cummings’ flouting of lockdown regulations was found to have breached impartiality rules – with BBC head of news Fran Unsworth saying it had “belonged more on the op-ed page in a newspaper than it did as the intro to an impartial broadcast programme”.

BBC World is an international channel with an estimated 121 million viewers. It broadcasts news bulletins, documentaries, lifestyle programmes and interview shows. Unlike the BBC's domestic channels, BBC World News is owned and operated by BBC Global News Ltd.

The JC had attempted to contact Mr Thaker for comment but he failed to respond to repeated requests.

But the Not That Bothered account became private shortly after we made contact with Mr Thaker so  tweets could only be viewed by those accepted as friends.


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