BBC bosses reprimand Naga Munchetty for liking anti-Tory tweets

BBC bosses reprimand Naga Munchetty and remind her of impartiality rules for liking anti-Tory tweets after she and breakfast co-host Charlie Stayt mocked Union flag in Robert Jenrick’s office

  • Naga Muchetty liked anti-Conservative tweets following ridicule of Robert Jenrick over Union flag
  • Charlie Stayt mockingly told the Housing Secretary that his large flag was ‘not up to standard size’
  • She laughed at his remarks and broke an awkward silence by commenting on a picture of the Queen
  • Miss Munchetty then liked tweets praising her and Mr Stayt over the incident, further fuelling the row
  • But she later said: ‘This do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken’ 

BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Muchetty has been ‘reminded of her responsibilities’ by the corporation after liking a series of anti-Conservative tweets following the ridicule of Robert Jenrick over the Union flag in his office.

Miss Munchetty’s co-presenter Charlie Stayt mockingly told the Housing Secretary that his large flag was ‘not up to standard size’ and was ‘just a little bit small’ yesterday, before she laughed at his remarks.

Mr Jenrick smiled politely but did not comment as the camera returned to the studio, where Miss Munchetty broke an awkward silence by adding: ‘The picture of the Queen there as well though, in the Westminster office I assume.’

Later yesterday, despite social media users accusing the presenters of breaching BBC impartiality rules, £195,000-a-year presenter Miss Munchetty liked tweets praising her and Mr Stayt over the incident, further fuelling the row.

The tweets 46-year-old Miss Munchetty liked included one which said ‘the flag sh**gers will be up in arms’ and this ‘should be done every time the Tories roll out one of their talking head ministers’, reported The Sun. 

But the presenter then apologised last night, tweeting at about 7.30pm: ‘I ‘liked’ tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning. I have since removed these ‘likes’. This do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken. Naga.’ 

A BBC source told the Sun: ‘Naga has been reminded of her responsibilities in relation to her liking some tweets about the comment.’ A spokesman added: ‘It was a light-hearted, off the cuff comment. No offence was intended.’

Charlie Stayt (left) mocked Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick over his Union flag before Naga Muchetty (right) laughed

Naga Muchetty later apologised about liking a series of tweets about the row after being ‘reminded of her responsibilities’

Mr Jenrick was on the show yesterday discussing Britain’s vaccine programme after European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s threat to impose an export ban on jabs from the European Union.

At the end of the interview Mr Stayt thanked the politician before making the comments about the Union flag in the corner of his room. He said: ‘I think your flag is not up to standard size government interview measurements.’ 

Mr Stayt added: ‘I think it’s just a little small, but that’s your department, really. Just a thought.’ Mr Jenrick smiled as the camera went back to the studio where Miss Munchetty made the comment about the Queen picture. 

Later, Mr Jenrick tweeted the picture of the Queen and Union flag, saying: ‘We’re always proud to fly the Union Flag at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It’s a symbol of liberty and freedom that binds the whole country together.’

Tory MP James Cleverley hit back at the BBC hosts, tweeting: ‘It’s not a small flag. It’s in the far corner of the room.’ And former BBC political journalist Andrew Neil added: ‘Sometimes the BBC forgets what the first B stands for.’

Baroness Hoey, the former Labour MP for Vauxhall, said the exchange was ‘exactly why’ BBC News ‘should no longer be allowed to charge a licence fee’, saying it was ‘always snidy about anyone standing up for our country’.

Naga Munchetty liked several tweets praising her and Charlie Stayt over the incident with Robert Jenrick on BBC Breakfast

Mr Jenrick tweeted the picture of the Queen and Union flag, saying: ‘We’re always proud to fly the Union Flag at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It’s a symbol of liberty and freedom that binds the whole country together’ 

And actor Laurence Fox asked why the BBC was ‘so comprehensively stocked with sneering moral supremacists’ who looked down on people that ‘love their country’.

ConservativeHome chief executive Mark Wallace said: ‘What a bizarre thing for the BBC to sneer and snigger at. What’s wrong with ministers of the British government having the flag and the monarch on display?’

He added: ‘Even more fundamentally British than the flag and the Queen: smiling awkwardly when someone does something rude or weird.’ Tory MP James Cleverly said: ‘It’s not a small flag. It’s in the far corner of the room.’

Patrick O’Flynn, former MEP for the East of England, said: ‘Classic example life on Planet BBC. If Jenrick had told them: ”Screw you for mocking our flag and our monarch” he’d have been a superstar by lunchtime.’

BBC rules state that news staff must adhere to an online code of conduct, which says: ‘Nothing should appear on your personal social media accounts that undermine the perception of the BBC’s integrity or impartiality.’ 

In September 2019, Miss Munchetty was embroiled in a race row after she condemned then-US president Donald Trump for telling some female politicians to ‘go back’ to where they came from.

She was found to have breached editorial guidelines by the corporation’s complaints unit, but the ruling was reversed by Lord Hall after an outcry.

Emily Maitlis was also accused of violating the BBC’s impartiality guidelines after she delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy last year during an episode of Newsnight.

She said Mr Cummings had ‘broken the rules’ when he travelled from London to Durham during lockdown and ‘the country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot’.

Anger flooded in from some incensed by the initial broadcast, which they believed showed bias, while others were furious about the corporation’s rapid climb down, after it issued a statement saying she had broken the rules.

Robert Jenrick smiled but did not comment as the camera went back to the studio where Naga Munchetty was laughing

It comes as the BBC unveiled plans to ‘better reflect’ all parts of the UK with more programmes made outside of London and a soap set in the North of England on the cards.

It will shift away from London over the next six years in what it bills as its ‘biggest transformation in decades’. News and current affairs programmes like Newsnight will be presented from different UK bases.

Radio 4’s Today show will be co-hosted from outside London for at least 100 episodes a year. Viewers will see a ‘noticeable shift in portrayal of different parts of the UK in drama, comedy and factual’ shows, the BBC pledged.

The BBC, which was accused of failing to understand the vote for Brexit, hopes the move changes the tone of its programmes and journalism. The decision could also result in a BBC rival to ITV soap Coronation Street.

The broadcaster said it would air two new long-running drama series – one from the North of England and the other from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Viewers would see about 30 or more episodes a year of the show.

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