Emily Maitlis in fresh BBC impartiality row

Emily Maitlis has become embroiled in another BBC impartiality row after suggesting the corporation’s priorities are misplaced.

Ms Maitlis last year stated on Newsnight that Dominic Cummings “broke the rules” on Covid-19 travel, prompting the BBC to issue an apology and find her in breach of impartiality guidelines.

The row has erupted again after the presenter said it is “so funny” how her case was swiftly dealt with while it took “three decades” to probe Martin Bashir, and raised concerns about the priorities of the BBC.

The corporation has issued a statement warning it will be speaking to Ms Maitlis again following her comments in the rolling dispute.

The BBC said: “Nothing is more important than our impartiality. All BBC journalists must abide by the BBC’s editorial guidelines and social media rules.

“There are no exceptions. We will be taking this up with Emily."

Ms Maitlis may face a further rebuke after reigniting the impartiality row in an interview with the journalism trade publications, the Press Gazette.

The presenter said she had no regrets about a monologue on Newsnight in which she said the country could see that Mr Cummings had broken Covid-19 rules, a broadcast the BBC found  “did not meet our standards of due impartiality” after it received 23,00 complaints.

But Ms Maitlis has now said that: “It hasn’t ever been explained to me what was journalistically inaccurate about that.”

She has also raised concerns about the BBC’s swift action against her compared to the issues of “serious journalistic malfeasance and critical management failings” around Mr Bashir’s 1995 interview with the Princess of Wales.

The BBC offered an “unconditional apology” for the broadcast this year after an inquiry led by Lord Dyson found the 26-year-old interview was won by mocking up fake bank statements.

The presenter has claimed that in her own case an apology was issued from the BBC with regard to her conduct within just four hours of a “call from Downing Street”.

‘We have to ask ourselves about priorities’

Ms Maitlis received a second rebuke for retweeting a question posed by presenter Piers Morgan which read: “If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?”

The Newsnight presenter has questioned why the BBC spent “four months investigating the retweet of a question”, adding “we have to ask ourselves about priorities”.

The BBC has denied that any influence from Downing Street was involved in the process in a further ramping up of the row, stating that Ms Maitlis’s claim is “false”.

A statement added: “Decisions about the BBC’s editorial standards are made by the BBC.”

Media watchdog Ofcom took no further action against Maitlis following her broadcast in 2020, and the BBC’s apology received more complaints than the presenter’s statements.

Ms Maitlis had said she considers the incident is “done and dusted” in her interview with Press Gazette.

However, following the BBC’s response to her recent comments, it is unclear whether the presenter will face a further rebuke.

Ms Maitlis has further commented on the future of the BBC, praising the former editor of the left-leaning HuffPost UK, Jess Brammar, who has been linked with a senior role at the broadcaster.

Ms Brammar has been an outspoken critic of Brexit and Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, as revealed by a series of now-deleted tweets, including the promotion of an article which claimed black Britons would consider leaving the country in the event of a Conservative electoral victory.

But Ms Brammar, a one-time deputy editor of Newsnight on BBC Two, has become the frontrunner to become head of the BBC’s news channels.

Ms Maitlis said "nothing will matter more to the BBC than its editorial independence" in regard to its appointments, adding that Ms Brammar is a "terrific journalist".

She said: "I’m sure they’ll do the right thing."

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