Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Sammy Wilson calls for Commons debate on BBC Talkback phone-in furore

By Staff Reporter

The BBC Talkback fake phone-in story reached the floor of the House of Commons yesterday as the DUP's Sammy Wilson called for a Westminster debate on the scandal.

The East Antrim representative wants MPs to discuss how the BBC deals with fake callers on its radio phone-in shows and how it selects audience members for its political programmes.

Mr Wilson told MPs: "The leader of the House will be aware that there will be Assembly elections in Northern Ireland next week.

"It has been revealed this week that the even-more-holier-than-thou sister party of the Liberal Democrats, the Alliance party, has been seeking to manipulate phone-in programmes by encouraging its members to give fake names and addresses and claim to be members of other political parties - a tactic that it says has worked in previous elections.

"So far, the BBC has provided very little coverage of this story, which is yet another example of the biased way it has conducted itself during the election campaign. May we have a debate in the House on the political bias of this publicly-funded body and how it has breached its charter?"

In response, Commons leader David Lidington said: "The BBC in Northern Ireland, as in everywhere else in the UK, is under an obligation, particularly during any kind of election campaign, to demonstrate that it is impartial with regard to rival political parties, but it must be for the BBC, not Government ministers, to take responsibility for editorial decisions."

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