The depth of the links between the BBC’s flagship politics programme Question Time and the British far-right is beginning to unravel as Twitter users claimed that yet another guest had links to extremist groups.
The fresh controversy over the show platforming members of the far-right began last week after a Question Time guest went on a rant about immigration that was cropped and shared extensively by the BBC’s social media accounts.
Following the rant, users on social media suggested that the woman was Sherri Peach, a far-right activist was has taken part in far-right demonstrations in support of Tommy Robinson. Peach has extensive links to the National Front, including both being married to former National Front Election Candidate Roy Peach and standing for election for the NF herself in the 1970s.
John O’Connell of the Far-Right Watch Anti-Racism Group revealed that “multiple sources” had confirmed to him that she “was invited on to [BBC Question Time] by staffer Alison Fuller-Pedley and placed front row. She stayed in a local hotel. Bill paid by a third party, as yet unknown.”
Eyes have once again turned to Alison Fuller-Pedley’s role in the selection of the Question Time audience. Fuller-Pedley works for Mentorn Media who are an independent TV production company, also working freelance as Full House Audience Management and for Question Time as “Audience Producer”, selecting the members of the public who will form the audience.
Fuller-Pedley, who once said that the Islamophobic Douglas Murray was “always a great panellist”, has also been a member of the racist and Islamophobic British Patriotic Front Facebook group and was found to have promoted Britain First online, the BBC stating she had shared their posts “unwittingly”. All five of them.
Obviously she also “unwittingly” likes Melanie Phillips, Jon Gaunt and clips of Nigel Farage.
“The BBC has clear impartiality guidelines covering the use of personal social media – this freelance producer and the rest of the programme team have been reminded of their responsibilities.”BBC, 2016
She has also been found to have been personally inviting members of the EDL to apply for Question Time via Facebook events pages in the past. The invites drew complaints from anti-racist campaigners and the local MP Matt Warman.
Writing to the Director-General of the BBC, Lord Tony Hall, Warman said that he “was dismayed to see that Question Time’s Audience Producer sought actively to recruit the members and supporters not of mainstream political parties, but explicitly of the English Defence League, going on to a Facebook page for a march that was held in Boston on Saturday.” adding that he had been “reliably informed that other attempts were also made to reach out to this extreme, far-right group. I know none were made to Conservative supporters, or appear to any other particular group beyond a general call to the public.”
“You might ask, ‘what does it matter? She is an Audience Producer. She probably advertises to all sorts of social media groups, from the far right to the far left, trying to attract people to be part of the Question Time audience’. If that were true, I would not be writing this. Fuller Pedley posted the above post on the EDL Demonstration Page and her own Timeline only. She did not advertise audience positions to any other social media groups. Why would a BBC producer be encouraging members of EDL, exclusively, to apply to be in the Question Time audience?”Daily Politik
The latest incident in the latest in a long line of controversies surrounding the panellists and audience on Question Time, with members of the far-right featuring prominently in the audience or on the panel and other right-wingers appearing multiple times.
In November of last year, Jeremy Corbyn was attacked at the Question Time debate by Ryan Jacobsz, a Conservative party activist and writer for Conservative Home who is a Hull West & Hessle representative to the Conservative Area Council and campaigns in marginal seats throughout the country.” Jacobsz has appeared on Question Time three times before despite successful applicants being asked that they don’t apply for ten years after their first appearance.
While Jacobsz may have racked up an impressive four appearances when he’s only supposed to appear once, he is beaten by UKIP’s Billy Mitchell with five appearances, seen below being chatty with Question Time staff. Mitchell is reportedly also a loyalist drummer
There are many more examples of Tory and far-right activists being placed into Question Time‘s audience as neutral “members of the public”, with Twitter user Jack Jazz having compiled many of them.
Whether seeking to increase Question Time‘s viewers and social media shares via controversy or something even more insidious, the fact remains that the BBC is actively and wilfully broadcasting far-right propaganda at a time when the spectre of fascism is hanging over Britain and when race relations are at the lowest point they’ve been for many years. From a corporate standpoint, this propaganda is being broadcast as the BBC comes under increasing criticism for its content from the left, the traditional supporters of the Corporation opposed to the right-wing who seek only privatisation.
The BBC continuing this process of propaganda is not only a supreme detriment to societal cohesion, not only a dereliction of the state broadcaster’s duty of care to the nation but a grave threat to the future of the BBC itself.