What BBC Newsnight ‘forgot’ to tell you about the guest who called for an end to the NHS

Kate Andrews on BBC Newsnight
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BBC Newsnight‘s #viewsnight series last night featured a call by Kate Andrews to scrap the current NHS. But the BBC failed to inform viewers that Andrews, a member of the hard-right Institute of Economic Affairs, has a vested interest in privatising the health service. Worse, this isn’t even the first time the BBC has done this.

Kate Andrews

“It’s time to overhaul the NHS and replace it with a system fit for 2018,” Kate Andrews told BBC Newsnight viewers on Monday 2 July 2018:

The BBC failed to inform its viewers that Kate Andrews is a prominent lobbyist for private healthcare companies. Andrews is currently news editor for the Institute of Economic Affairs, a hard-right thinktank which promotes the shrinking of the welfare state. Before that, she was with the equally hard-right Adam Smith Institute. As a spokesperson for Republicans Overseas UK, it was Andrews’ job to sell the ideology of the US Republican Party to Britain. And everyone knows how the Republican Party feels about taxpayer-funded healthcare.

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Déjà vu

The BBC has form in this area. In February last year, BBC Newsnight featured a segment on the NHS in which cancer specialist Dr Karol Sikora called the health service “the last bastion of communism”:

While dissenting views on the NHS are fine, it is important to know the financial interests and background of the speaker. Like Andrews, Sikora has financial interests in privatising the NHS.

Sikora is the medical director of private health firm Proton Partners Ltd, based in the tax haven of the Bahamas. He took part in a series of anti-NHS attack ads for the US Republican Party aimed at killing off President Obama’s healthcare plans. In the videos, it’s claimed that NHS rationing boards routinely deny life-saving care to vulnerable British patients:

This is lobbying. And rather than learning from the Sikora incident, the BBC has repeated the same failure.

BBC breaking bad

As openDemocracy editor Adam Ramsay pointed out, the BBC appears to be breaching its own conflict of interest guidelines, which state that:

All BBC staff are required formally to declare any personal interest which may affect their work with the BBC. Freelance presenters, reporters, producers and researchers and most other freelances will also be required to declare personal interests which may affect their work with the BBC.

It’s now on licence-fee payers to hold the BBC to account for this failure. Because permitting airtime to a corporate lobbyist to undermine the NHS, without revealing this conflict of interest, is simply unacceptable.

Get Involved!

– You can send your complaint to the BBC here.

– Read more Canary articles on the NHS, and more from The Canary’Health section.

– Support the Save Our NHS campaign, and other NHS campaigns.

Featured image via Twitter

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