12 days later, the BBC finally admits Fiona Bruce did make fun of Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott and BBC logo
Fréa Lockley

The BBC has reportedly admitted that Fiona Bruce did make fun of Diane Abbott, 12 days after denying this happened.

‘Hostile’

Abbott appeared on BBC Question Time on 17 January. As The Canary reported, audience members witnessed host Fiona Bruce creating a “hostile atmosphere” towards Abbott before the show. This wasn’t the only issue. Because on air, Bruce joined right-wing columnist Isabel Oakeshott in wrongly attacking the shadow home secretary’s polling data. Since then, tens of thousands of people have called for the state broadcaster to issue an apology.

Now, 12 days after the show, according to the Mirror, the BBC has admitted “in private correspondence” that:

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




presenter Fiona Bruce did make ­light-hearted personal comments… an email from show editors to the Shadow Home Secretary confirms Bruce made what she believed were good-humoured remarks during the warm-up.

“Light-hearted”?

As an audience member told The Canary, before the show, Bruce:

took it upon herself to instigate a roast. Comments such as ‘let her know what you really think’ and ‘some may think she is in the shadow cabinet because of her very close relationships with Corbyn, nudge nudge, wink wink’ were made…

A spokesperson for Abbott told The Canary that they were “appalled” and said:

It was clear that a hostile atmosphere was whipped up, propped up by reports of inappropriate and sexist commentary in the audience warm-up session.

Yet, when The Canary contacted the BBC for comment, it denied these allegations, saying:

We firmly reject claims that any of the Question Time team treated any of the panel unfairly before and during the recording last night.

Now, the BBC has passed these comments off as ‘humour’.

“Despicable”

The BBC‘s comments angered many people:

People were particularly angry because of the ongoing racist abuse and harassment that Abbott endures:

Many people also feel that the BBC should release tapes of the pre-show footage:

There is nothing ‘funny’ about sexist or racist comments. And there never will be. There’s quite simply no excuse for Bruce’s ‘humour’. Until Abbott receives a full apology, the BBC is not off the hook.

Featured images via screengrab and Wikimedia

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support