The BBC has finally issued a full correction for the mistake that Question Time host Fiona Bruce made on the show last week, about the Vote Leave electoral offences.
During last week’s programme, Bruce objected to an audience member who said that Vote Leave had been accused of breaking electoral law.
Bruce quickly shut down the audience member, saying that, “No criminal charges were brought in the end. No criminal charges were against the Leave EU campaign.”
However, the audience was referring to Vote Leave – the official campaign run by Dominic Cummings – rather than Leave.EU.
Vote Leave was found by the Electoral Commission to have committed a number of offences during the EU referendum. This included exceeding the regulated spending limit. The group was fined £61,000 by the Electoral Commission for its breaches of electoral law, which it paid earlier this year.
Initially, the BBC said that Bruce misheard the audience member, and thought he was referring to the unofficial Leave.EU campaign run by Arron Banks and Richard Tice.
However, as Full Fact has pointed out, Question Time is not broadcast live. The production team should have caught the error, as it could have misled viewers.
But the reality is that Leave.EU broke electoral law as well. The group committed a number of offences during the referendum campaign, including exceeded its spending limit, incorrectly recording transactions, not submitting invoices and receipts, and failing to properly report spending.
This new BBC correction therefore admits that both Leave campaigns were fined for electoral offences.
As BBC insiders will know, Question Time is actually run by an independent production company. However, it’s worrying that it took the BBC a week to figure out that it was wrong about the referendum offences of the Leave campaigns.
They should examine the facts, rather than swallowing the smear tactics of Banks and Cummings.