The BBC refuses to call Hamas terrorists because it fears angering the group and losing access to reporting, broadcaster Kirsty Young has suggested.
Young previously presented news for Channel 5 and ITV, but last year she was working for the BBC fronting Platinum Beacons: Lighting up the Jubilee, the live coverage of the celebration of the Queen’s 70-year reign, and then three months later Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Windsor Castle.
Young, who previously presented news for Channel 5 and ITV and was a Desert Island Discs and Crimewatch presenter for the BBC, praised its coverage of the Middle East war.
She said she understood the difficult position the corporation faces, including the criticism for not calling Hamas terrorists after the mass murders of October 7.
Following a storm of criticism the BBC now refers to the group running Gaza as a “proscribed terrorist organisation”.
Young, 54, said: “It’s not necessarily the BBC that is talking about the use of the word terrorism. They’re answering criticism from the outside and I guess as long as - especially when it comes to something in the Middle East - if you’re getting roughly the same amount of complaints from both sides, which they are, then you kind of know you’re doing an OK job.
“And I think this whole reporting that it is a proscribed terror organisation with reference to Hamas, then that is a legitimate stance if you want to continue to have access and to report what is happening in those places.
“Because what you don’t want to do is get thrown out of places because you’re not allowed to report any more.
“You want to have access. You know the whole point of the BBC in news terms is to show people the evidence as fairly as they possibly can.”
Speaking on Monday’s Adam Buxton podcast in an interview recorded last month, she said: “There’s a reason that people trust the BBC news site, and it’s because it was verified by three sources, and it’s because they’re the biggest news organisation in the world.”
When asked about Young’s comments, the BBC responded by referring to its previous statement saying: “We’ve set out our position on the use of language.”
In that, it had said: “Our coverage of the unprecedented assault on Israel by Hamas has made clear the nature of the atrocities committed and the impact this has had on civilians.
“Across our reporting we have explained that Hamas is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by many Western governments, including the UK.
“We have reflected the response from the international community to Hamas’ actions, and featured contributors who have described them as terrorists.
“We have given careful consideration to all aspects of our reporting of the Israel-Gaza conflict, both in terms of Hamas’ attacks and Israel’s response – this includes the language that we use.
“The BBC is editorially independent; our role is to explain precisely what is happening so that the public can make their own judgements.
“Our longstanding position, including during previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, has been that we do not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution, in line with the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.”