Labour request footage from BBC over Diane Abbott 'joke'
The party said it wanted an on air apology after the 'unacceptable' treatment of the shadow home secretary
The Labour party has requested unaired footage from last week's Question Time and on screen apology, following an appearance by Diane Abbott on the BBC's flagship political discussion programme.
Abbott, the shadow home secretary, described the way she was treated during the broadcast as "a disgrace."
Labour is also asking for an on air apology after Question Time host Fiona Bruce asserted that Labour is behind the Conservatives in the polls.
Bruce reportedly made a joke in the build up to the show's live broadcast which referenced Diane Abbott's past relationship with Jeremy Corbyn. This warm up section of the show is not aired but it's understood the Labour party has requested footage of it.
Labour also said Abbott was interrupted twice as many time as her Tory counterpart Rory Stewart. They counted 21 interruptions for their shadow cabinet member versus nine times for Stewart and eight for Kirsty Blackman of the SNP.
The apparently most grievous interruption came, however, after the shadow home secretary said Labour was "level-pegging" with the Conservatives in polling data. Fiona Bruce insisted Labour were "definitely" behind. In reality, a selection of polling can be chosen to make the case for either party - some have the Tories ahead, others behind, and several put the UK's two main parties in a dead tie.
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) January 17, 2019
Labour Twitter went into meltdown over the remark, prompting the BBC to respond: "We’ve reviewed what was said regarding polling. A YouGov poll published on the day suggested a lead for the Conservatives.
"Diane Abbott was also right that some other polls suggested Labour were either ahead or tied and we should have made that clear."
Following the incident, Abbott wrote in The Independent that Bruce did "not appear to be well briefed" and was "not afraid to appear unfair as a presenter."
She said: "I was interrupted more than double the number of times that Tory MP Rory Stewart was interrupted, even though he spoke more times than I and for a longer period overall,” she said.
"I was not allowed to respond to a blatantly abusive remark from the audience. I’m also told that she made unpleasant remarks about me to the audience, before the programme was actually recorded, although the BBC has denied that ‘any of the panel was treated unfairly either before or during the recording’.
"A number of people who were there have reported that the audience was wound up against me before I even stepped on stage.
"In all my life I have never asked for special treatment, only fair treatment. But many viewers and people in the audience for last week’s Question Time thought that the way I was spoken about before the programme, the way that I was treated during the programme and the chairing of the programme were decidedly unfair."
A BBC spokesperson said: "We’re sorry to hear Diane Abbott’s concerns and have contacted her team to reassure them social media reports are inaccurate and misleading.
"Diane Abbott is a regular and important contributor. We firmly reject claims any of the panel were treated unfairly before or during the recording."