The nationwide vote, in May, saw Nigel Farage’s newly launched Brexit Party take 29 of the 73 available seats, and the story, European Election 2019: UK results in maps and charts, offered a breakdown of support for “pro and anti-Brexit parties”. However, a contributor to the pro-Brexit Guido Fawkes website lodged a complaint with the corporation over a “misleading” graphic, which suggested anti-Brexit parties had won 40.4 percent of the vote, with pro-Brexit parties attracting 34.9 percent.
The anti-Brexit total failed to include support for the Conservative Party, despite the Tories being committed to a policy of taking Britain out of the European Union.
A letter upholding the complaint and signed by Dominic Groves, deputy head of the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit, said “both pro and anti-Brexit parties” had cited the outcome of the elections as evidence their side had the greatest support.
He added: “BBC News has told us the graphic which prompted your concern was an attempt to provide some clarity in relation to those arguments as well as an attempt to illustrate the squeeze on Labour and the Conservatives by parties offering a clear cut proposition on whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU.”
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party won 29 seats in the European Parliamentary elections
Jeremy Corbyn’s position was also misrepresented by the BBC
Mr Groves explained: “We think this is a reasonable approach in principle, but the resulting graphic does not seem to us to have contained sufficient information to achieve the desired result.”
The bar labelled pro-Brexit had only reflected the combined total vote for the Brexit Party and Ukip, in other words the parties advocating or willing to accept a no deal outcome.
However, Mr Groves acknowledged these were not the only pro-Brexit positions, with “a significant section, if not a majority of the Conservative Party” being in favour of some form of Brexit, a fact he said “required a more comprehensive explanation of the respective positions of the parties it excluded from these totals”.
Dan Walker apologised after saying Mr Corbyn was committed to stopping Brexit completely
Mr Groves added: “In any event, if the intention was to illustrate the fragility of support for the two main Westminster parties, this needed to be explicitly referenced in the text to guard against the inference that those in favour of Brexit had been outvoted by those opposed to it.”
A summary of the complaint and the decision to uphold it will now be published on the complaints page of bbc.co.uk, the letter concluded, with the BBC set to “consider what further action is required”.
A story carried on Guido Fawkes’ website said: “The BBC has admitted its representation of the European Parliamentary election results in May represented a “lapse of editorial standards” when it refused to count the Conservative Party as a ‘pro-Brexit’ party.
The BBC upheld the complaint about the “misleading” graphic
“The notorious chart used by the BBC to present the election results attempted to present the Conservative Party as holding a similarly ambiguous position on Brexit as the Labour Party did at the time in order to deliberately imply anti-Brexit parties received the most votes.
“A heroic co-conspirator has pursued the issue for months, and despite being rebuffed twice by the BBC, yesterday finally had his complaint accepted.
“It was only accepted after threatening to take the matter to OFCOM.”
An excerpt from Dominic Groves’ letter
Many voters remain unconvinced Brexit will happen on October 31
A BBC spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “We note the findings of the ruling.”
The complaint is not the first time in recent days the BBC has faced accusations of misrepresenting the facts with relation to Brexit.
BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker was this morning accused of “misreporting” Labour’s Brexit policy after claiming Jeremy Corbyn was set to vow to do “everything necessary” to stop the UK from leaving the EU.
The clock is ticking down until October 31
Lawyer Peter Stefanovic tweeted: “BBC1 misreporting again today.
“Here they are saying Jeremy Corbyn ‘has pledged to do everything necessary to stop the UK leaving the EU’ when he has actually vowed to do ‘everything necessary to stop a disastrous no deal Brexit!’
Mr Walker subsequently issued an apology to Mr Stefanovic, explaining the script had been changing to reflect Mr Corbyn’s actual position.