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BBC's Brexit coverage impartial, maintains boss Hall

By Lucy Mapstone

The BBC's director general has hit back at claims of bias from MPs, insisting the broadcaster's news coverage of the Brexit process is impartial.

Around 70 MPs, including all eight in the DUP, signed a letter to Lord Hall accusing the corporation of failing to break out of "pre-referendum pessimism".

In response, Lord Hall said BBC News was based on "impartiality" that was not taken for granted, and that journalism at the BBC must remain "independent of political pressure" to maintain the trust of the public.

He added: "Impartiality has always been the cornerstone of BBC News. It remains so today.

"We do not take it (impartiality) for granted and we go to great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of different perspectives.

"It is one of the reasons why the public trusts the BBC more than any other source of news.

"I agree with you that these are consequential times. For that reason, it is more important than ever that the BBC's journalism is independent of political pressure."

Lord Hall also praised the BBC's editors and those who work with them across the world for doing an "extraordinary job day in, day out". "The public hugely values the work they do, and so do I," he said.

The complaint from Tory MP Julian Knight was signed by 60 Tory MPs, including former cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers, two Tory peers, three Labour MPs, eight DUP MPs, two DUP peers and Ukip's only MP.

They said the BBC had fallen "far short" of its obligation to provide balanced coverage, and warned: "If politicians and the public don't view it as an impartial broker, then the future of the BBC will be in doubt."

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