Naga Munchetty BBC complaint also mentioned co-host Dan Walker – report

The original complaint about Naga Munchetty’s Donald Trump comments that led to her being reprimanded by the BBC also mentioned her Breakfast co-host Dan Walker, it has been reported.

The BBC last week partially upheld a complaint against Ms Munchetty, ruling that she had crossed an editorial guideline speaking out on air about comments made by the US president, which were widely condemned as racist.

Ms Munchetty was the focus of the BBC’s executive complaints unit’s (ECU) investigation because an appeal by the complainant focused on her comments rather than her and Mr Walker together.

The corporation’s director of editorial policy and standards David Jordan also previously clarified this, saying on two occasions that Mr Walker could not be included in the rebuke as he was not referred to in the specific complaint that was partially upheld by the ECU.

However, according to The Guardian, the original complaint did refer to Mr Walker, with the member of the public describing him as “very unprofessional” and accusing him of “repeatedly expressing incredulity” that Mr Trump’s remarks could be defended.

The newspaper reports that it was only in a later version of the complaint that “specifically focused on Ms Munchetty’s comments rather than Mr Walker’s” that was the focus of the ECU investigation.

It is claimed that the decision to reprimand only Ms Munchetty and not Mr Walker has created unease among BBC staff, with a senior journalist at the corporation telling The Guardian: “They’ve chosen to interpret the complaint as only being about Naga and made her a sacrificial lamb.

“The process is a mess. David Jordan has led two programmes to believe that the complaint wasn’t about Dan Walker when it clearly was.”

Naga Munchetty
Naga Munchetty

A BBC spokesman said: “The appeal to the ECU focused on comments by one presenter, but the statement from the executive team on Friday is clear, the BBC is not impartial on racism.

“Racism is not an opinion and it is not a matter for debate.

“Racism is racism. Naga has the very clear support of the top of the organisation.”

The ECU ruled that Ms Munchetty crossed the line when she condemned comments made by Mr Trump when he told female Democrat politicians to “go back” to their own countries.

In a July BBC Breakfast broadcast, prompted by Mr Walker, Ms Munchetty went on to give her opinion on Mr Trump in response to his remarks.

The BBC has faced a backlash over its decision, with a petition calling for its decision to be reversed attracting more than 14,000 signatures.

Stars including Sir Lenny Henry, Gina Yashere and Adrian Lester told the BBC its position in rebuking Ms Munchetty was “deeply flawed” and “illegal” in a letter.

Sir Lenny Henry
Sir Lenny Henry

Elsewhere, the likes of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Chancellor Sajid Javid are among those who have criticised the ruling and aired support for Ms Munchetty, and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom will also assess what was said against its own broadcasting rules.

On Friday, Mr Jordan told Newswatch: “There is no doubt that the comment that he (President Trump) made was racist.

“To say to anybody from an ethnic minority community, from an immigrant community, that they should go back to where they came from is just ignorant prejudice, and is racism.”

Mr Jordan added: “Dan Walker’s contribution was not, as it were, helpful in the context. It could be said that Dan Walker kind of led Naga Munchetty to the conclusion that she eventually made.”

The Sunday Times alleged that minority staff and presenters at the BBC have been told by the corporation not to join in any form of protest supporting Ms Munchetty.