BBC boss Tony Hall hits back over MPs' Brexit bias letter, saying broadcaster must remain "independent of political pressure"

 
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The New Director General Of The BBC Tony Hall Arrives For His First Day In Charge
A group of MPs wrote to Tony Hall last night to attack the BBC's Brexit coverage (Source: Getty)

BBC director general Tony Hall has written to respond to criticism over the corporation’s reporting of the Brexit vote.

In response to a letter from more than 70 MPs, Hall said “it is more important than ever that the BBC’s journalism is independent of political pressure”.

Read more: BBC accused of Brexit bias: MPs' letter in full

Hall responded to Julian Knight MP, saying: “Impartiality has always been the cornerstone of BBC News. It remains so today. We do not take it for granted and we go to great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of different perspectives. It is one of the reasons why the public trusts the BBC more than any other source of news.

“I agree with you that these are consequential times. For that reason, it is more important than ever that the BBC’s journalism is independent of political pressure.”

Last night, it emerged that Knight had coordinated a letter signed by more than 70 MPs hitting out at BBC coverage over Brexit.

They warned the BBC could “undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country”.

"It particularly pains us to see how so much of the good economic news we've has since [the] June [referendum] has been skewed by BBC coverage which seems unable to break out of pre-referendum pessimism," the letter said.

Read more: More than 70 MPs accuse the BBC of bias in its Brexit coverage

Here is the text of Tony Hall's letter to Julian Knight in full:

Dear Mr Knight,

I have read the reports today in newspapers about your views of the BBC’s coverage of the Brexit debate and associated issues.

Impartiality has always been the cornerstone of BBC News. It remains so today. We do not take it for granted and we go to great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of different perspectives. It is one of the reasons why the public trusts the BBC more than any other source of news.

I agree with you that these are consequential times. For that reason, it is more important than ever that the BBC’s journalism is independent of political pressure.

Our political, economics and business editors - alongside their teams and colleagues in local radio, across the nations and around the world - do an extraordinary job day in day out. The public hugely values the work they do, and so do I.

We are also always alive to our critics, recognising that at times of great national debate strong opinions will be expressed about our coverage on all sides.

We will continue to listen respectfully and respond wherever appropriate. Above all, we will guard our independence, report the news diligently and impartially, and continue to fulfil our mission on behalf of all our audiences.

We recognise the importance of the BBC to the UK at home and abroad at this important moment for the country’s future.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Hall

Director-General