Literally nobody believes the BBC’s excuse for the wreathgate debacle

Boris Johnson holding a wreath in 2016 and 2019 with a tweet over the top suggesting Ofcom investigates the BBC's coverage
Kerry-anne Mendoza

During Remembrance Sunday services, Boris Johnson laid his wreath upside down. It’s the kind of gaffe that could and would have haunted him until election day. But the BBC kindly replaced the mistake with footage from 2016, wilfully or otherwise shielding Johnson from the consequences. The BBC claims this was a simple mistake. But literally nobody believes it.

The gaffe

Broadcasters and newspapers normally spend Remembrance Sunday determinedly focussing their ire on Jeremy Corbyn. He’s too scruffy, he needs a shave, he didn’t bow low enough, he bowed too low like the jam-eating surrender monkey he is! It’s relentless. One year they even claimed he did a jig, as if dancing on the graves of Britain’s war dead. In fact, he’d been sharing a tender moment with 92-year-old World War Two veteran George Durack, who’d been cropped out of the image.

There is a landfill somewhere overflowing with the acres of newsprint dedicated to bashing Corbyn on Remembrance Day. So you’d think such sensitive souls would be all over Johnson. Um, no. Instead, the footage was replaced (the BBC insists ‘accidentally’) with unblemished footage from 2016. So instead of a scruffy Johnson making an idiot of himself, the public saw a clean cut Johnson laying his wreath perfectly.

Pull the other one

The BBC claims this was an honest “production mistake”. I mean really, who hasn’t edited out a major gaffe by a sitting prime minister weeks away from a general election with three-year-old footage? Come on. Unfortunately for the BBC, the public is just not in the mood for this nonsense right now.

Even former BBC staffers came forward to undercut the corporation’s version of events.

Flogging a dead horse

But the BBC maintains its position regardless. Rob Burley, the BBC‘s editor of live political programmes, issued a stern tweet on the subject.

It did not help matters at all. The replies were fairly brutal.

Twitter replies to Rob Burley

Whether the BBC edited the clip intentionally remains to be proven. But the BBC has earned the mistrust it’s being faced with now.

After the Panorama on Labour antisemitism doctored emails to give different meaning to their contents, the Labour Party described it as “a seriously inaccurate, politically one-sided polemic, which breached basic journalistic standards”.

Then there was the Newsnight set that pictured Corbyn as a Russian stooge.

The cases are so many and so grievous that Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, intervened on the issue. In 2018, he claimed the BBC had regularly used “coded negative imagery” of the Labour leader since his 2015 election. So people have little patience with the BBC then cleaning up negative imagery of his political opponent Boris Johnson.


The BBC is in danger of losing public support permanently with its continued failure to provide real balance. It’s working against the very people that would historically have been its greatest allies. And no amount of nonsense apologies can cover the sense that something is very wrong with our public broadcaster.

Featured image via YouTube – Ruptly / Twitter – Will Black / Twitter – Simon Maginn

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Before I saw them for what they are on Corbyn’s election as leader I would have defended them. At the time I wrote letters making points and just received a rebuttal, quoting their mantra as being what they should be, fair and impartial. Not even, we respect your comments and will take them into account in future. As far as I’m concerned, journalism, which was once respected as seeking out and presenting the truth, has been replaced by self serving shoddy Tory PR work. They do viewers a disservice and insult them in the process.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.