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Watch: Tory MP accuses BBC of bias over ‘amateurish’ Newsnight Yemen special

11 September 2015

7:03 PM

11 September 2015

7:03 PM

With charter renewal looming, the BBC is under increasing scrutiny from the government to justify its licence fee. So it’s fair to say Thursday night’s Newsnight Yemen special did little to endear the corporation to some members of the Tory camp.

The programme — led by the BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse — looked into Yemen’s ‘forgotten war’; highlighting the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign over Yemen to drive Houthi rebels from the city. It reported how the airstrikes — which have hit some civilian targets — are supported by Britain as the country sells arms to Saudi Arabia.

Alas, this focus has not gone down well with Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory MP who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. He has tweeted Newsnight editor Ian Katz to warn him that the licence fee should ensure balanced reporting rather than ‘one-sided propaganda’:

DanielBBCtweet

Kawczynski accuses Newsnight producers of ‘unprofessional’ reporting for failing to report on the ‘brutality’ brought on by Houthi rebels:

However, given that Katz says Kawczynski’s fellow Tory MP Crispin Blunt praised the programme, it’s not all bad news for the show’s team:

Now Kawczynski is scheduled to appear on tonight’s episode to make his case.

Update: Kawczynski’s appearance on the show did not go smoothly. The Tory MP had a strongly worded debate with James O’Brien, who aggressively grilled him on the country’s links to Saudi Arabia. Kawczynski remains adamant that the BBC are ‘trying to falsify the situation’ on the ground ‘through their biased coverage’.

He says ‘it’s time that people stood up to the appalling bias of the BBC’, before commenting that ‘the BBC is omnipotent and such an important organisation and never makes any mistakes’. Mr S senses a degree of sarcasm in his latter comment.

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