BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 6 September 2009


Paddy O'Connell on Broadcasting House featured a discussion between Labour's former health secretary Frank 'Santa's Evil Twin' Dobson (pictured right) and the Conservative MEP Roger Helmer (pictured left) about the NHS. (Tip to Conservative MEPs: If you want to raise your public profile get yourself told off by the Conservative front bench. The Beeb will be on the phone! This was Roger Helmer's second interview on one of Radio 4's major programmes in as many weeks.)
Frank Dobson was not interrupted but Mr Helmer was interrupted 3 times, earning O'Connell I.C.s of 0 for Dobson and 1 for Helmer.

O'Connell mainly questioned Dobson about an anecdote concerning a woman who used a mobile phone in a hospital when she shouldn't have done, whereas with Mr Helmer he stuck to asking about the Conservative Party's attitude towards the NHS (and the debate about the NHS). These contrasting lines of questioning (one soft, one tough) suggest bias. However, the clearest sign of bias came when O'Connell switched tack with Claus at one point and asked him a gift of a question, "Does that tell you, Frank Dobson, what the Conservatives might do with the NHS?" That's not the sort of question an interviewer should put to a Labour spokesman, especially if he doesn't return the favour to the Conservative spokesman - and he didn't return the favour! The question also slanted the discussion still further away from the Labour Party's policies on the NHS.

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