Jess Brammar gets senior BBC job after impartiality row

·3 min read
Jess Brammar
Jess Brammar

Jess Brammar has been appointed to a senior role in BBC News, despite an impartiality row over her old tweets.

A former editor of HuffPost UK, she will now oversee the BBC's domestic and international news channels.

It comes after weeks of wrangling, during which time BBC board member Sir Robbie Gibb was said to have objected to her appointment.

Some media outlets drew attention to her now-deleted tweets, which were critical of Brexit and the government.

Sir Robbie was said to have warned that hiring Brammar would anger ministers, at a time when the BBC is about to enter negotiations for the licence fee that funds its operations.

But her appointment was confirmed by BBC chairman Richard Sharp at the Royal Television Society's Cambridge Convention on Wednesday,

Brammar said she was "looking forward to cracking on with the job".

'Couldn't be more thrilled'

The newly-created role of executive editor will involve oversight of the BBC News channel and its international equivalent, BBC World.

Brammar has previously worked at BBC programmes Question Time and Newsnight, as well as at ITN.

But her appointment was mired in controversy for several weeks, after it emerged she had criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson on social media.

In July, the Financial Times reported Sir Robbie had warned the BBC's outgoing director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, that the government's "fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered" were Brammar to be appointed.

Sir Robbie, who previously worked as communications director to former prime minister Theresa May, was appointed to the BBC board in April.

Jacob Rees-Mogg agreed, commenting later that month that Brammar's potential appointment "damages the whole perception of independence and impartiality at the BBC".

He added: "They really do damage themselves".

Brammar previous tweets included accusing the PM of lying in a TV interview, and also compared Brexit to the TV series Better Call Saul, "but less funny or interesting or enjoyable".

Earlier this year, she criticised the Society of Editors' response to claims by Meghan Markle of racism in the British press.

"I'm aware I won't make myself popular with my peers," Brammar tweeted, "but I'm just going to stand up and say it: I don't agree with [the] statement from my industry body that it is 'untrue that sections of the UK press were bigoted'."

'Journalists leave personal opinions at the door'

Unsworth confirmed Brammar's appointment in an email to staff on Wednesday, while addressing the recent controversy.

"Jess is an award-winning editor with wide-ranging experience in broadcasting," she wrote.

Addressing the recent controversy, she added: "BBC News has to be impartial and independent. BBC journalists are hired from a variety of different backgrounds, but while working at the BBC, they leave any personal opinions at the door."

"Any individual should be judged on how they do their job at the BBC, not on what they have done in different organisations with very different objectives," she added.

"It is extremely disappointing that anyone should receive public and personal criticism - or online abuse - simply for applying for a job at the BBC."

Writing on Twitter for the first time in several weeks, Brammar added that "couldn't be more thrilled to be joining such an incredibly talented team".

It was announced last week that Unsworth herself would be leaving the BBC early next year, after more than 40 years with the broadcaster.

Brammar's appointment was confirmed alongside that of Paul Danahar, who will become executive news editor of the World story team.

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