A group of British parliamentarians has opened an investigation into the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Jewish community.
The cross-party probe by MPs and peers is being conducted by a committee that includes a former BBC governor and a former minister overseeing BBC World Service. It will be chaired by Lord Carlile of Berriew, who previously serviced as a Liberal Democrat MP and was the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
The panel will examine evidence of bias in the BBC’s reporting on Israel and Jews, which it will present in a report that includes recommendations. The results of the investigation will be formally shared with the BBC in 2023.
The investigation is taking place after UK regulator Ofcom concluded that the BBC broke its editorial rules during the reporting of an antisemitic incident that occurred on Oxford Street in London last Hanukkah.
The BBC article about an attack on a bus full of Jewish students celebrating Hanukkah last year contained “significant editorial failings,” according to a report released by the British government’s media regulator ini November.
The November 2021 report prompted indignation from British Jewish groups and led to a December protest of about 200 people outside BBC headquarters, organized by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. The incident has become fodder for critics of the BBC who say the network regularly reflects an antisemitic and anti-Israel slant in its reporting, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which applauded Ofcom’s report.
Ofcom also criticized BBC London News’ decision to air a version of the story on TV while its editorial integrity was under review.
“Our inquiry will be wholly impartial and will aim to offer expert guidance and recommendations for the corporation to address when it comes to antisemitism and Israel, the handling of complaints and the ‘culture of defensiveness’ identified by Ofcom,” Lord Austin said, according to the Chronicle.
On Tuesday, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan told a parliamentary committee that the BBC had “a great way to go [on] questions around BBC impartiality.”
“If we look at the antisemitism issue … and the result that was concluded by Ofcom, there are concerns around BBC impartiality,” she said.