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Kathy Gyngell: Bad news at the BBC – another EU-loving Leftie in charge


I don’t suppose the name Fran Unsworth means much to most readers of the site. That’s because she is just another of those grey faces who’ve inhabited the BBC since time immemorial, shifting from one top job to another; the sort who ensures the BBC continues unhindered in its PC, progressive and deeply biased political path, impervious to complaint and reason alike, but who most people never get to meet.

She is the ‘safe pair of hands’ the BBC has chosen to replace the egregious attention-seeker James Harding as its new head of news.

It is difficult to conceive that she could be as hubristic as her predecessor – a man who believes that because people tune into the State’s monopoly broadcaster it therefore cannot be biased, a case he made where else but in the Guardian, going on to assert (against all the evidence) that bias against Remain was the biggest problem for the BBC. This was also the man whose specious defence of the BBC election coverage so singularly failed to stand up to scrutiny.

So what do we actually know of Fran Unsworth – apart from the fact that she’s a woman, ‘gender’ and ‘diversity’ being the only areas of ‘imbalance’ our national news broadcaster is truly interested in. Can we expect better of this longstanding BBC insider and present director of the World Service? I fear not, despite the unusually optimistic view from Guido Fawkes that she has a ‘strong grasp of the impartiality rules’. Read on for why.

Guido may remember her criticism of Channel 4’s Jon Snow for his impartiality-busting emotionalism over Gaza, on which she commented: ‘If one of our presenters had done something like that in a private capacity on YouTube, I’d have had to have said, this isn’t really appropriate in terms of your public role as an impartial presenter of BBC news programmes. We take it very seriously.’

And may be that her BBC Media Action/World Service roles have involved her in public confrontations with the ayatollahs in Iran over their treatment of BBC staff, which all sounds good and pretty virtuous.

Guido may too have approved of her honesty in saying the fact there are fewer women in ‘leadership roles’ at the corporation is due not to discrimination but because women ‘rule themselves out’ of the top jobs in their mid-30s, no matter what policies the BBC puts in place.

But that is where the good news stops. The rest is bad.

A BBC loyalist through and through is what she is. See her here, for example defending the BBC against the accusation of its following a tabloid agenda over Jon Venables; as the ‘company spokesman’ set to close ranks, silence debate and defend the BBC whatever its mistakes, even over the appalling Savile saga.

Even worse, this was the woman who authorised the coverage of the raid on Cliff Richard’s house (including the use of a helicopter) which has since been defended by the BBC. South Yorkshire Police have apologised to the singer and agreed to pay him substantial damages.

With Cliff Richard’s claim for damages against the BBC over the raid likely to come to trial next year, and with the corporation still vigorously defending its conduct, an interesting and acid test awaits our Frannie.

As to the critical matter of the BBC’s EU bias, Fran’s credentials look distinctly dodgy here too. One of the privileges of a top job at the BBC is that it usually opens up another, or more. Ms Unsworth has also had the honour of being the ‘chair’ of the so-called independent BBC Media Action Charity, which I fear is far from independent. This is the BBC’s very substantial ‘charity’ arm (funding of £44.2m a year – from among others the DfID, the UN and the EU), run by Caroline Nursey, a former Oxfam director-level exec, and which has a vast reach and overseas aid agenda, including its support for right-on climate change and diversity projects. It has accepted more than £9million from the EU to deliver parts of the EU’s own expansionist political strategy, as discussed here and here.

Also in Ms Unsworth’s jobs portfolio is being a board member on the EU’s world-embracing Erasmus Mundus programme, an outfit I doubt many of you have heard of. To put you in the picture, it has the explicit objective of promoting ‘the European Union as a centre of excellence in learning around the world’, in other words the promotion of pro-EU propaganda across the globe.

Taking on this role was not just unwise, Unsworth was in direct contradiction of the BBC’s core Charter requirement of impartiality. It is astonishing that anyone at the BBC could think otherwise; or how deeply inappropriate it was for a would-be impartial deputy director of news and current affairs, not least given the long-term entrenched euro-scepticism of Great Britain, finally allowed to surface in the Referendum.

It is no surprise to find Ms Unsworth is on record with her resistance to criticism about the BBC’s pro-EU bias. She gave herself away with a typically BBC dismissive reaction a few years ago, choosing to shoot the messenger (in this case the Centre for Policy Studies) while conveniently ignoring the independent, extensive and comprehensive catalogue of bias already mounted against the BBC by News-watch by that date.

So I won’t be holding my breath on her fairness over Brexit. And don’t expect any light at the end of the BBC’s climate change tunnel with this lady in charge. If you want to meet our new head of BBC news drama queen, you need go no further than here to see how she’s already laid down the law on this matter.

Hardly unbiased, I’d venture.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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