I'm no longer surprised at hearing about BBC presenters and reporters trading on names as BBC employees and engaging is a spot of moonlighting from time to time. Just as long as they take the money and don't say anything they shouldn't say (as prominent BBC representatives), that seem's fair enough to me - and admirably entrepreneurial of them too.
However, what if they take part in an event that promotes something that's highly controversial in their own field of reporting?
BBC Watch is raising the alarm about BBC Middle East reporter Yolande Knell's pre-Christmas chairing of a Q&A session at a promotional event for Palestinian director Leila Sansour's film Open Bethlehem in London - a film its admirers present as being anti-"occupation" and anti-security barrier.
What is Yolande Knell doing getting herself involved in the promotion of this controversial pro-Palestinian film?
As per the estimable Daphne Anson in the comments field at BBC Watch, a possible clue might be provided by Ms Sansour's Facebook page:
Another great evening at a packed Crouch End cinema. This time the Q&A was chaired by BBC Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell with whom I bonded three years ago over Yorkshire tea which had to be carefully rationed in Bethlehem as there were limited supplies of it in town- basically, her cupboard and mine.
Also as per Daphne Anson (at her blog), Yolande has also been tweeting about the film too:
Great review for #OpenBethlehem, documentary by Leila Sansour. Opens in London tomorrow: http://t.co/sh2seayrKbNow, we don't know what Yolande Knell said at the event. She may have remained studiously 'impartial' in her hosting of the event, or she may have behaved in a completely biased way.
— Yolande Knell (@YolandeKnell) December 5, 2014
Nevertheless, her mere presence at the promotion of such a partisan pro-Palestinian film is highly questionable, isn't it? And she does seem determined to give this film her seal of approval.
Doubtless BBC Watch and others will be referring the matter to the BBC to see if Yolande Knell has breached editorial guidelines here.
UPDATE: Sue has been Googling around and spotted some of Ms Sansour's Other Helpers. (As have I.)
They include far-Left comic Jeremy Hardy, former Tablet deputy editor (turned Catholic Voices founder) Austen Ivereigh, trainspotter Irvine Welsh, Waking the Dead scriptwriter Nicholas Blincoe (married to Leila, director of the documentary Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army), the Guardian, and BBC journalist Rana Haddad.
It's her patch, though. How can this not be a violation of BBC rules? It's not like she's promoting some sports event or even a political issue on some other topic. This is her taking sides on the very issue she's supposed to be reporting impartially.ReplyDelete
I can't see how it isn't myself, David.Delete
It such a reckless thing for a BBC reporter to do though, particularly one (like Yolande Knell) who's often been accused of anti-Israel bias. She doesn't strike me as stupid, so she presumably thinks she can get away with it.
I know Beeboids do a lot of this "chairing" of fora and other gatherings like this. But it's an event that is specifically on one side of the issue she's assigned to cover. A complaint is in order, but I'll have to think about it carefully so I don't come across as overly angry or so verbose the complaints drone stops reading and moves on.Delete
I won't get my hopes up, though, as Black and Harrabin have done the same thing plenty of times, so it must be permissible.
I shall never look at a packet of Yorkshire Gold the same way again.
That is the thing that's filling me with doubt, David - hence the somewhat tentative tone of the post.Delete
Roger Harrabin is a regular host at environmentalist events. David Eades ('World Tonight' presenter) likewise. Gavin Esler hosted a book promotion for Abdel Bari Atwan.
They all seem to be able to do it without censure from above. So, as you say, it must be permissible, mustn't it?
Still, plenty of pithy complaints about Yolande Knell's involvement in this event might help smoke out what BBC policy actually is - though the BBC Complaints labyrinth will do its very best to frustrate us, and will probably succeed.
If you check out the link to Daphne's blog, you'll see a tweet from 2011 from Jon Donnison that might put you off Yorkshire Gold for life.