UK lawmakers launch probe over BBC’s coverage of Israel, antisemitism

The inquiry comes on the heels of reports of “significant failings” on the broadcaster’s coverage of antisemitic incidents.

By World Israel News Staff

A group of bipartisan British lawmakers have launched an investigation into alleged bias at the BBC over its reporting on Jews and Israel, the London-based Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported on Thursday.

The investigative committee, led by a panel that includes a former BBC governor, comes after the BBC apologized for mishandling complaints about anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias following a petition by the JC that garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

The parliamentary inquiry also comes on the heels of a damning report by Britain’s media regulator agency, Ofcom, which took the BBC to task over its coverage of an antisemitic incident in London during Hanukkah last year, which Ofcom said was riddled with “significant editorial failings.”

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.

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According to Ofcom, the BBC erroneously supported the claim that the assault was provoked by anti-Muslim slurs.

“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.”

The latest parliamentary inquiry into the BBC will be chaired by former Liberal Democrats MP Alex Carlile, Baron Carlile of Berriew, and will include several members of the House of Lords, the JC reported. Lord Ian Austin, who serves as the UK’s trade envoy to Israel, will become secretary of the BBC inquiry.

“Our inquiry will be wholly impartial and will aim to offer expert guidance and recommendations for the corporation to address when it comes to antisemitism and Israel, the handling of complaints and the ‘culture of defensiveness’ identified by Ofcom,” the JC cited Austin as saying.