BBC tells Tories to take down Facebook ad featuring its presenters

Laura Kuenssberg and Huw Edwards footage could damage perception of impartiality, says corporation

The BBC is demanding the Conservatives take down Facebook adverts featuring footage of its journalists Laura Kuenssberg and Huw Edwards, arguing that their inclusion could damage perceptions of the corporation’s impartiality.

The paid-for advert uses footage of the BBC’s political editor and the News at Ten host to argue that chaotic debates over Brexit can be avoided if people vote Conservative.

The short clip begins with Kuenssberg saying the words “pointless delay to Brexit”, in footage taken from an archive news broadcast. Although the clip gives the impression it was the BBC political editor delivering that judgment, it appears she was actually quoting Boris Johnson’s comments from September when he rejected a further extension to article 50.

Her appearance is followed by footage of Edwards – who will host the BBC’s election night coverage – intoning that there will be “another Brexit delay”, followed by shaky footage of opposition leaders accompanied by threatening music.

The BBC said its footage had been used without permission and asked the Conservatives to stop using the material in this manner. “This is a completely unacceptable use of BBC content which distorts our output and which could damage perceptions of our impartiality. We are asking the Conservatives to remove these adverts,” it said.

In common with other intentionally provocative stunts pulled by the Conservatives during this campaign, such as rebranding their press office Twitter account as a fact checker, it is possible the party will welcome any press coverage that focuses attention on its message.

The advert had been running for 24 hours on both Facebook and its sister site Instagram by the time of the BBC’s complaint. In this time it had been seen by about 100,000 people and it remains live. The advert was targeted at older male voters, although it is possible the Conservatives intended to put more money behind it to reach a wider audience.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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