Neither Fiona Bruce nor the domestic abuse charity Refuge wanted this; it seems to have been prompted by the sense of betrayal felt by domestic abuse victims – over words the BBC obliged her to speak.
Ms Bruce has quit as an ambassador for Refuge after saying on the BBC’s Question Time last week that it’s understood an incident in which former PM Boris Johnson’s father broke his wife’s nose was “a one-off”.
The charity has said survivors of domestic abuse have been in touch over the weekend to described how “devastating” Ms Bruce’s words had been to them.
Refuge’s position has always been that “domestic abuse is never a ‘one-off’; it is a pattern of behaviour that can manifest in a number of ways, including but not limited to physical abuse. Domestic abuse is never acceptable.”
Ms Bruce should have known that – but it seems that she was caught between a rock and a hard place, because she was “legally obliged” by her contract with the BBC to say the words that were given to her during the recording of the programme on March 9.
The BBC explained this in a statement on March 10: “When serious allegations are made on air against people or organisations, it is the job of BBC presenters to ensure that the context of those allegations – and any right of reply from the person or organisation – is given to the audience, and this is what Fiona Bruce was doing … She was not expressing any personal opinion about the situation.”
So it seems the BBC was at fault for telling Ms Bruce to speak words that were at odds with accepted facts about domestic abuse.
That certainly seems to be Refuge’s take on what happened: “While we know the words were not Fiona’s own and were words she was legally obliged to read out, this does not lessen their impact and we cannot lose sight of that.”
Contrast this with the Corporation’s attitude to Gary Lineker, who has been reinstated as host of Match of the Day after (rightly) refusing to retract his comparison of Suella Braverman’s words about Channel migrants with the rhetoric of Germany in the 1930s.
In both situations, the presenters knew (or should have known) what was right, but their bosses wrongly thought they knew better.
The BBC still hasn’t learned its lesson; Lineker is back in his job while an “independent” review of its social media policy takes place. This Writer can guess right now that it will demand stricter restrictions on presenters’ rights of free speech on other platforms.
And Suella Braverman is still othering and demonising Channel migrants.
In her latest Parliamentary appearance, she blamed vulnerable refugees for the supply of illegal drugs in the UK:
Suella Braverman says police chiefs have told her "that drug supply… is now connected to people who came here on small boats illegally" pic.twitter.com/62XtYBhb70
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) March 13, 2023
So she hasn’t learned any lessons either.
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