BBC's own ex-exec demands inquiry over 'bias' in Israel-Hamas coverage: 'It's long overdue!'

Flags outside BBC

The BBC has been criticised for its coverage of the conflict

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 20/11/2023

- 07:38

Updated: 20/11/2023

- 09:36

The corporation has been criticised for a 'pro-Palestine bias'

The former BBC head of television has called for a review into the corporation's coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Danny Cohen accused a diplomatic correspondent of showing pro-Palestine bias.

Cohen was the director of BBC Television from 2013 to 2015.

He added that since the beginning of the conflict, Britain’s Jewish people are “being harmed through its unbalanced reporting".

BBC Broadcasting House protest

BBC Broadcasting House has been hit with protests since the conflict began


He said: “The time has now come for a long-overdue independent inquiry into the corporation’s editorial and management failures in its reporting of Israel.”

It comes as he criticised BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Caroline Hawley, accusing her social media feed “of reading like a series of press releases from Hamas central command".

He added: "Day after day Hawley reposts messages and photographs from Gaza without context or any apparent attempt at basic journalistic verification. There is barely a mention of the October 7 massacres or the ongoing plight of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

“So why has Hawley been allowed to continue to report in such a biased, unbalanced way? Is the BBC ok with her reporting or unable to control it? This is a question it must urgently answer.”

WATCH: Ann Widdecombe criticises the BBC's coverage of the conflict

He said that Hawley has written numerous posts on X, formerly Twitter, expressing concern for the “shocking” and “terrifying” situation in Gaza.

But The Telegraph reports that just nine per cent – or 18 – of her 195 tweets and retweets since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7 have mentioned Israeli deaths, casualties and hostages, including case studies of families captured.

Earlier this month, Hawley tweeted: “What shocks me in this small glimpse of the terror civilians are enduring in Gaza is how calm people appear. I guess there’s little choice.”

Now, Cohen has claimed “the BBC’s credibility with the Jewish community is reaching a point of no return".

He added: "With these incidents piling up on a daily basis there is only one conclusion to draw.

"Either the BBC’s senior management is complicit in these egregious examples of bias, these regular breaches of its guidelines, or it lacks the ability to control the output of its own organisation.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We take complaints about social media use very seriously, especially on such a sensitive and contested subject, and investigate accordingly.

"Impartiality is crucial for BBC news staff, and our guidelines require them to reflect a wide range of opinion in their social media.

"We will continue to remind all our journalists of their responsibilities.”

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