Emily Maitlis reprimanded by BBC after sharing ‘controversial’ Twitter post

Journalist Emily Maitlis has been reprimanded by the BBC after she shared a post on social media which was “clearly controversial”, the broadcaster has said.

A statement on the complaints section of the BBC’s website criticised the Newsnight presenter’s social media activity after she shared a post by fellow journalist Piers Morgan in February.

The Twitter post said: “If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?”

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Emily Maitlis (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

The Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) statement said the “retweeted material was clearly controversial, implying sharp criticism of the Government, and there was nothing in the surrounding context to make clear that Ms Maitlis was not endorsing it or to draw attention to alternative views”.

It added: “Ms Maitlis deleted the retweet from her account within 10 minutes of its appearance but, in the absence of a public acknowledgement that it had been out of keeping with the BBC’s editorial standards, this did not seem to the ECU sufficient to resolve the issue of complaint.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie warned staff over their use of social media when he took on the role at the broadcaster last year.

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Tim Davie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He said staff sharing their opinions online could harm the broadcaster’s reputation for impartiality, which he described as a “number one priority” amid accusations of bias from figures across the political spectrum.

Morgan labelled the BBC statement as “quite incredible”, adding the post was “not a partisan comment, it’s a statement of fact”.

“Why is the BBC so utterly spineless?” he tweeted.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “We note the ECU findings.”

The BBC said the complaint was lodged by a member of the public who thought Maitlis “gave an impression of partiality in a controversial matter”.

Last year the BBC ruled a monologue by Maitlis on Newsnight about the row over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham breached impartiality rules.