‘Significant failings’: UK media regulator slams BBC’s coverage of antisemitic bus attack

Government report into BBC finds “significant failings” in outlets coverage of attack on bus full of Jewish students during Chanukah last year.

By World Israel News Staff

Britain’s media regulator agency took the BBC to task in a new report released Monday, chiding the outlet’s coverage of an antisemitic incident in London during Chanukah last year.

During the November 29th attack, a group of Muslim men surrounded a bus full of Jewish passengers on London’s Oxford Street, when the bus stopped there on its way to a Chanukah event organized by the Chabad movement.

The assailants first began mocking the teens, and then became more aggressive as the group returned to the vehicle — later hitting the bus and its windows with their shoes and fists.

The Metropolitan Police said officers were deployed at the time of the incident, and later spoke with the victims at nearby Grosvenor Place, after the bus had left the scene to avoid further confrontation.

Monday’s report, published by the UK’s Office of Communications (Ofcom), said the BBC’s reporting on the Chanukah incident was riddled with “significant editorial failings,” criticizing the British media giant for pushing the claim that the assault was provoked by anti-Muslim slurs BBC reports claimed were uttered by passengers during the confrontation.

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“The BBC’s reports claimed that an audio recording made during the incident included anti-Muslim slurs – which it later changed to the singular ‘slur’ – which came from inside the bus,” Ofcom regulators wrote. “Shortly afterwards, it received evidence which disputed this interpretation of the audio.”

“The BBC failed to promptly acknowledge that the audio was disputed and did not update its online news article to reflect this for almost eight weeks.”

“During this time the BBC was aware that the article’s content was causing significant distress and anxiety to the victims of the attack and the wider Jewish community.”

At the time, the broadcaster drew heavy criticism from the Jewish community after it initially refused to retract its initial claim that the attack had been provoked by anti-Muslim slurs.

During the backlash, Rabbi Y. Y. Rubinstein, a regular contributor at the BBC for three decades, quit in protest of the BBC’s handling of the controversy.

“I simply don’t see how I or in fact any Jew who has any pride in that name can be associated with the Corporation anymore,” he said.

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade also took the broadcaster to task for its reporting on the attack, calling for an apology.

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“Given the available evidence, or rather lack of it, it is worrying that the BBC has so far defended its report that there were ‘clearly’ anti-Muslim shouts from the bus, while the antisemitic gestures were only ‘alleged,’” Grade said. “They need to provide the evidence to support their defense or rethink and issue an urgent correction and apology.”

Last week, the BBC issued a mea culpa apologizing for antisemitic content in its Arabic service, though no apology has been given for its coverage of the November 2021 bus incident.