The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 April 2005

Network's Hecklers Planted At Tory Rally

BBC Caught Redhanded

New Election Row Creates Fury

Is there a news network in the world looking more pathetic these days than the hopelessly biased BBC?

First they call Jamaica, looking for Bob Marley (he died in 1981), now they're caught redhanded trying to meddle in Britain's upcoming election, by planting phony hecklers in the audience to taunt Conservative Leader Michael Howard.

Anybody know where Dan Rather was around that time?

Shouting "Michael Howard is a liar" and "you can only trust Tony Blair", the phony demonstators were later revealed as plants, with furious Tory leaders rightly demanding apologies and more.

You'd think the Beeb would have learned from the heat they took over their horrible Iraq coverage and sexed-up dossier scandal which became a major governmental focus of attention, but it's clear nothing has changed.

Worse, viewers are forced to pay an annual fee per television, to support this kind of BBC rubbish!

It's hard to imagine a bigger breach of journalistic ethics than this: a news network attempts to create a fake election story by planting rabblerousers? What a sad state of affairs for the news business.

This is the last thing Tony Blair needs, he has a comfortable four-point lead in most polls and every indication has been the Tories would be unable to make up the difference in time for upcoming national elections.

With this kind of incident, could swing voters conclude that Labour is in bed with the BBC again and switch sides on election day, in disgust?

It's clearly the kind of race where all Labour needs to do is stay out of trouble to win handily. Oops, too late now! It's bound to create a certain amount of sympathy for the Conservatives and Michael Howard, at a time when it's badly needed.

It's the lamest political stunt since former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan took a naked shower with two FM morning show rock jocks.

(Sunday Telegraph- 24 April 2005- Patrick Hennessy)

The BBC was last night plunged into a damaging general election row after it admitted equipping three hecklers with microphones and sending them into a campaign meeting addressed by Michael Howard, the Conservative leader.

Michael Howard addresses the crowds in Horwich
Michael Howard addresses the crowds in Horwich (Telegraph Photo)

The Tories have made an official protest after the hecklers, who were given the microphones by producers, were caught at a party event in the North West last week.

Guy Black, the party's head of communications, wrote in a letter to Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of news, that the hecklers began shouting slogans that were "distracting and clearly hostile to the Conservative Party".

These included "Michael Howard is a liar", "You can't trust the Tories" and "You can only trust Tony Blair".

Mr Black's strongly-worded letter accused the BBC of staging the event "to generate a false news story and dramatise coverage. . . intended to embarrass or ridicule the leader of the Conservative Party". The letter said that BBC staff were guilty of "serious misconduct".

At least one of the hecklers was seen again at a Tory event in the North East, Mr Black added.


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