New BBC impartiality row after One Show reporter criticised Tory MP

BBC faces another impartiality row after One Show reporter Lucy Siegle called for Tory MP Scott Benton to be deported in Twitter spat over migration

  • Lucy Siegle suggested ‘swapping’ Mr Benton with someone else if the UK is full
  • Scott Benton hit back and asked her: ‘Did you miss the memo on impartiality’? 
  • It follows the BBC’s row with its own staff after Lineker stepped back from MOTD 

The BBC could face a fresh impartiality row just days after confirming football pundit Gary Lineker would return to host MOTD on Saturday, as a One Show reporter appeared to call for a Tory MP to be deported as she waded in on immigration policy.

Lucy Siegle, who is also a writer on environmental issues, tweeted critically on Tuesday of Scott Benton’s claim that the UK is ‘full’ to capacity.

Mr Benton, MP for Blackpool South, hit pack at the presenter, asking her: ‘Did you miss the memo on impartiality?’

It follows an embarrassing weekend for the BBC after a widespread walkout among sports presenters following Lineker’s temporary removal from presenting MOTD, causing a scramble to reschedule hours of TV.

Lineker had tweeted critically about the government’s plans to tackle small boats crossings, which would see both refugees and migrants banned for life from entering the UK if caught. 

Lucy Siegle questioned how MP Scott Benton had calculated that the UK is ‘full’ in apparent criticism of the government’s immigration policy

On Tuesday Ms Siegle tweeted: ‘Apparently a Tory MP called Scott Benton has worked out the carrying capacity of the British Isles and declared the UK to be full. 

‘If we’re operating then on a one in one out basis, can we swap him out for someone else?’

She added: ‘Love to see his workings out. It is very complicated (and some might say impossible) to understand when a given landmass is full but Scott has obviously done the maths.’

Mr Benton responded to her tweets, writing: ‘I’m quite happy in the country I was born in and have lived in all my life thanks Lucy. 

‘It appears that you’re the one who has a problem with British values such as free speech.

‘Ps – As a presenter on the BBC, did you miss the memo about impartiality?’

On Wednesday morning, Ms Siegle wrote: ‘Coming to terms with a sad truth today: I’ll never be British enough for Scott. He is literally out-Britishing me. I just cannot compete.’

The One Show presenter has previously been outspoken about her views, including criticising the BBC’s own impartiality code.

Also on Tuesday she shared a clip of news podcast The News Agents which discussed the Lineker row.

Tory MP for Blackpool South Scott Benton hit back, asking Ms Siegle if she had ‘missed the memo’ on BBC impartiality

It follows the reinstatement of Gary Lineker to this Saturday’s MOTD after a mass boycott of football programming last weekend

She said: ‘This episode… is like taking a massive breath of fresh air. A proper reasoned look at the subversion of impartiality, used as a cloak for a populist agenda. Bravo!’

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

The comments come as it was confirmed this week Gary Lineker will return to presenting MOTD this weekend, after last week’s episode was replaced by a 20-minute ‘Premier League Highlights’ show with no pundits or commentary. 

The BBC asked Lineker to step back from the programme while it discussed his use of social media, after he compared the language used by government to describe people crossing the Channel, including refugees, to that used in 1930s Nazi Germany. 

After it was announced he would miss the show, a wave of football presenters refused to work in solidarity, meaning MOTD, Football Focus and much of Radio 5Live’s content had to be cancelled. 

The BBC was widely criticised for its handling of the row, with some accusing the corporation of threatening free speech.

Backbench Tory MPs yesterday blasted the corporation for ‘caving-in’ to Lineker by allowing him to return to MOTD.

Director-general Tim Davie and content chief Charlotte Moore travelled to Salford yesterday to ‘reflect on the events of the last few days’ with sports staff. 

A source there said people were ‘livid’ about what has happened, amid claims that Mr Davie had ‘just presented’ at staff when he spoke to them.

It is just the latest scandal to hit the BBC after it was previously revealed Chairman Richard Sharp allegedly helped then-PM Boris Johnson to secure a loan while going throught the appointments process, which is led by government. 

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