Grant Shapps rows with BBC over refusal to call Hamas terrorists
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has publicly slapped down veteran BBC foreign affairs reporter John Simpson as the row over the BBC’s coverage of the terrorism attacks in Israel escalates.
The Corporation still refuses to call Hamas terrorists despite the brutal slaughter of more than 1,400 Israeli citizens including beheading babies and burning children to death.
Simpson has publicly defended the BBC’s position in the face of growing criticism but has managed to offend Jewish employees at the Corporation who were disturbed by his latest outburst.
Mr Shapps, Britain’s first Jewish Defence Secretary, made it clear he too was unimpressed.
He said: “John Simpson, who’s a journalist who I hugely have always admired, must know as well as anyone else does that when you start to cite the Nazis in any argument you’ve basically lost it.
“Parliament has defined them as a terrorist organization, Ofcom have confirmed that the BBC is wrong to claim that Ofcom won’t let them call them terrorists. I think it’s time for the BBC to move on.”
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In a blog, Simpson compared BBC reporting now to the guidelines in the Second World War.
He said: “It’s always been like this in the BBC. During World War Two, BBC broadcasters were expressly told not to call the Nazis evil or wicked, even though we could and did call them ‘the enemy’. ‘Above all,’ said a BBC document about all this, ‘there must be no room for ranting.’ Our tone had to be calm and collected.”
The reference to the Nazis has reportedly upset a number of Jewish staff, who have described Simpson’s contrivbution as “tone deaf.”
The problem was then further compounded Deborah Turness, the chief executive of BBC News, the next day included that section of the blog in a note to all staff.
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One BBC worker told The Times: “What was he thinking of by referencing the Nazis? It’s never a good idea and particularly not at the moment.
“Does he not realise how vulnerable Jewish members of staff are feeling? It shouldn’t have been repeated by Deborah.”
The BBC hypocrisy on the issue was highlighted earlier this week when within hours of two Swedes being killed in Brussels its headline referred to terror attacks.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak criticised the BBC again over its failure to use the accurate word “terrorists” to describe Hamas who are legally a proscribed organisation.
Ofcom have also confirmed that the BBC is wrong to claim that it cannot use the word terrorist because of its rules.
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