BBC bias row as viewers fume at ‘unbalanced’ Kuenssberg panel

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A Labour MP has hit out at the BBC over its choice of panellists for Sunday With Laura Kuennsberg. The show had three guests: Tesco chair John Allan, Journalist Rachel Johnson, and former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

They discussed a wide range of issues, including the allegations that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson received help from the chairman of the BBC to secure a loan guarantee.

Mr Bryant tweeted a screenshot of the panel on the BBC today accompanied by the caption: “How is this a balanced panel?” spoke to Mr Bryant about the panel, which he said was “skewed”.

The MP for Rhondda added: “It would have been nice to see the chairman of the BBC on the panel because he was obviously going to be the subject of the conversation, and they were obviously going to talk about Boris Johnson again.

“It seemed bizarre to have Boris Johnson’s sister on plus a Tory MP. I like Iain, but it just felt skewed. And it’s not the first week I have felt that either.

“If you are going to be discussing Boris Johnson, I don’t think you can have a Tory MP and Boris’ sister. On one occasion Rachel interviewed her father about her brother on LBC.”

A number of commentators also took issue with today’s panel on Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg.

Left-wing Guardian columnist Owen Jones tweeted: “So after the BBC’s chair refused to appear on the BBC’s flagship politics programme to discuss whether he helped Boris Johnson secure a loan guarantee, they put his sister on the panel. You. Cannot. Make. This. S***. Up.”

Former Labour and Change UK MP Angela Smith said: “When Johnson is once again in the news, thanks to the questions around BBC Chairman Richard Sharp, @bbclaurak has Rachel Johnson on her panel. Impartiality of the BBC can only be damaged further when siblings are allowed to appear on TV to defend the indefensible.”

The BBC has been approached for comment.

The controversy surrounding former Prime Minister Johnson comes as the Sunday Times reports that BBC Chairman Richard Sharp helped the former Tory leader get a loan of up to £800,000.

Mr Sharp said he had “simply connected” people and there was no conflict of interest, and Mr Johnson says he did not receive financial advice from the BBC boss.

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was asked about the sleaze allegations on Ms Kuennsberg’s show this morning.

He said: “Well, I’ve not had a conversation with either of those parties about that situation.

“I have met with Richard, we discussed the (BBC) World Service, he struck me as an incredibly competent, experienced, thoughtful individual. I can see exactly why he has the attributes, both personal, professional, to be the chair of the BBC.

“So, as far as I can see, his appointment was made on those merits.”

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