Astonishing dismissiveness by BBC press office
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg has disregarded electoral law by discussing what she hears from sources about which party they believe postal votes have favoured in the general election:
Kuenssberg’s sources are likely to be as wrong as they were on Monday, but as an LBC producer pointed out in her social media feed, the reason it is illegal to discuss postal votes before the polls have closed for all types of ballot is that such discussions may affect votes still to be cast:
Postal voters are typically older, so would a stronger showing for the Tories would not be surprising – but basically Kuenssberg has no idea whether the postal votes are worse than usual.
She is simply taking the word of sources – as she did on Monday when she repeated a Tory lie, without any fact-checking, that a Labour activist had punched a Conservative aide.
But even wrongly implying something about the postal vote count might, for example, deter voters from going out to cast their vote tomorrow – or affect how they vote.
The Electoral Commission last week published a thread explaining electoral law on information – and made it clear that what Ms Kuenssberg (and her sources if they exist) did is likely to be a criminal offence:
The BBC’s own guidance on the issue is even more emphatic:
It is an offence against the Representation of the People Act – one that is punishable with a prison sentence of up to six months:
Yet Ms Kuenssberg blithely did so.
But Ms Kuenssberg is not the only one blithe and flippant about the law and the effect a breach might have on the UK’s democracy and the outcome of the election.
The SKWAWKBOX called the BBC News press office to ask whether any action would be taken or the BBC had any comment to make. When no response had been provided after several hours, the SKWAWKBOX called again.
And was told:
You’re on the list. If we decide we’re putting out anything about it, you’ll be told then.
When asked whether the BBC would commit to commenting or provide a timescale for a response, the answer was:
No, you’ll just have to wait.
A couple of hours after Laura Kuenssberg’s comment that the law bans to prevent influence on the result of the UK general election, a BBC reporter told BBC News viewers that Boris Johnson ‘so deserves’ to win the election.
The BBC’s conduct in this election has shown it to be utterly corrupt, from its lies to get Jeremy Corbyn to face its toughest interviewer when Boris Johnson had not committed to doing the same, to its backing down and allowing Johnson an easy interview instead, to its editorial decisions to ignore massively important events in the election that would have been adverse to the Tories and broadcast Tory-friendly fluff instead.
Change is not just needed. It is essential, before our democracy collapses completely.
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