Many people are accusing the BBC of under-reporting its own scoop on the Prime Minister. A recording leaked to the BBC suggests that Theresa May has repeatedly misled parliament. The Prime Minister has consistently denied a ‘sweetheart deal’ for Conservative-controlled Surrey Council.
But the leaked recording shows a “gentleman’s agreement”, indicating the government made special arrangements for the council. Both Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor Phillip Hammond have constituencies in Surrey.
The BBC’s former editor expressed concern at the lack of coverage:
As a former BBC News Home Duty Editor I'm surprised Surrey Council Tape Leak – a BBC News story – didn't make the 10 O'Clock News or Today
— David Prescott (@DavidPrescott) March 8, 2017
The scandal that keeps giving
Last month, the Surrey Council scandal began when Jeremy Corbyn ambushed May with leaked texts at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). The texts suggested the government had offered Conservative Council leader David Hodge extra cash to ‘kill off’ a referendum on a Surrey Council tax hike. The council originally floated a 15% increase in council tax to pay for its adult social care crisis. The tax hike would’ve embarrassed both Hammond and Hunt.
At the time, May accused Corbyn of using “alternative facts”. And when the Labour leader raised it again in the Commons, May said:
Those claims were utterly destroyed the same afternoon, so rather than asking the same question, he should stand up and apologise.
But in the leaked recording, Council leader Hodge speaks of a “gentleman’s agreement” between himself and the government. Hodge recalls how he spoke with the Secretary of State for Local Government “in his car outside No 10 Downing Street”.
The Special Advisor rang me with what we can and cannot say. There are certain things we cannot say. And yes there are certain risks with the decision that we’ve decided to go with.
Media outrage… imminent?
Despite being leaked the recording, many people are accusing the BBC of under-reporting the revelation:
@BBCNews. BBC Where has your story gone this morning about Theresa May's leaked tape about Surrey Council?
— Donna Gilbert (@dinkydiva238) March 8, 2017
Didn't the BBC have an exclusive story about govts sweetheart deal with Surrey council that Theresa May apparently lied about? #Newsnight
— Empty Vassal (@EmptyVassal) March 7, 2017
Theresa May caught out lying again, there was a deal with "Surrey Council" anybody remember "all in it together" @BBC remain silent
— jayne #GTTO (@njayner) March 8, 2017
Corbyn released accurate tax return, media implied he misled.
Now looks like May misled parliament over Surrey. Media outrage is…imminent?
— Alex Nunns (@alexnunns) March 7, 2017
At PMQs on 8 March, Corbyn raised the Surrey Council question again:
Could the Prime Minister explain the difference between a sweetheart deal and a gentleman’s agreement?
In response, May continued to simply deny any deal exists. But both the leaked messages and recordings suggest otherwise. And nobody’s buying this dismissive comeback.
Listen to the audio here:
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) March 8, 2017
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