New BBC boss bans journalists from posting ‘partisan’ tweets – ‘You should not be working here’

Tim Davie, new Director General of the BBC, arrives at BBC Scotland in Glasgow for his first day in the role.
Tim Davie made firm comments about employees' use of social media and impartiality on Thursday. (PA)

The BBC’s new director general has told employees they should not work at the corporation if they want to be partisan on social media.

Tim Davie told staff on Thursday that impartiality was the corporation’s priority and opinionated columnists should work elsewhere.

Davie, who was recently reported as wanting less left-leaning comedy in programming, is understood to have told colleagues he would rigorously enforce the policy.

“If you want to be an opinionated columnist, or a partisan campaigner on social media, then that is a valid choice but you should not be working at the BBC,” he said.

In his remarks, published online, he added the “number one priority” at the BBC was renewing “our commitment to impartiality”.

He noted that while the BBC is regarded by many as trustworthy, “too many perceive us to be shaped by a particular perspective”.

“I wonder if some people worry that impartiality could be a little dull,” he continued.

“I would just turn to our finest work: it is exhilarating, passionate and ground-breaking.

Read more: Have your say: Is BBC comedy too left wing?

“To be clear, this is not about abandoning democratic values such as championing fair debate or an abhorrence of racism.

“But it is about being free from political bias, guided by the pursuit of truth, not a particular agenda.”

Davie went on to say he wanted to seek a “wider spectrum of views”, and for staff to “spend much more time outside the BBC listening to those who pay for us”.

detail of the modern section of the Broadcasting House, headquarters of the BBC, with signage, in downtown London, England
BBC staff have been warned about their social media use. (Getty)

“We’ll take action in coming weeks, but to be clear, there will be new guidance on how we best deliver our impartiality guideline; new social media rules, which will be rigorously enforced; and clearer direction on the declaration of external interests.”

Davie’s comments follow a row over the performances of Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms.

The BBC initially said the pieces would not be sung and only instrumental versions would feature, leading to Boris Johnson claiming the UK was experiencing “an orgy of national embarrassment”.

Questions had been raised over the music’s links with colonialism and slavery.

However, one day after Davie took over as BBC chief, the corporation announced a U-turn and confirmed they would be sung at the event by a select group of musicians.

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