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Storm over Corfu

Steve Mawhinney Steve Mawhinney | 12:02 UK time, Thursday, 23 October 2008

I suspect that never before has the holiday island of Corfu received quite as much attention in the British media as it has in recent weeks. The extraordinary gathering this summer of politicians, media magnates and billionaires has spawned a plethora of stories.

Lord Mandelson and George OsborneAt the centre of most of them, of course, have been two major figures in British politics - Lord Mandelson, the new business secretary and George Osborne, the shadow chancellor. What they said, and to whom, has received massive coverage across newspapers and other news organisations, ironically it appears kicked off by a conversation they had with one another at a now infamous taverna on the Greek isle.

Amidst the storm, questions have been raised about the BBC's coverage. Of course those questions are many and varied as always but there has been a particular accusation from some complainants that we did too much on the allegations against George Osborne and not enough on those against Lord Mandelson.

Let's deal with the Osborne story first. Here was a specific allegation of wrongdoing - indeed possible law-breaking - against the man holding the most sensitive post in the shadow cabinet outside of the leader. The claim - vehemently denied - that he solicited a donation to the Conservatives from a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, and talked about ways to secretly channel that donation to the party, on the face of it could have put him in breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

What's more, that allegation - made in a letter to The Times, who understandably led on the story - came from Nat Rothschild, someone who up until that point at least had been a long-term friend of Mr Osborne's, so much so that he was hosting Mr Osborne and his family at his Corfu home, and his mother had been funding the shadow chancellor's private office to the tune of £190,000. The BBC also learned that Mr Rothschild was willing to go to court to back up his claim and had another witness who would support his story.

In the light of the seriousness of the allegations - and the seriousness of the person making the claim - many BBC News outlets made the decision that this was an important story and chose to lead with it, as did every other major broadcaster and nearly every national newspaper.

But what about Lord Mandelson and his links with Oleg Deripaska? After all, while holding the position of EU trade commissioner he had stayed on Mr Deripaska's yacht in Corfu and indeed had dined with him previously on a number of occasions. This at a time, where he had supported moves to cut EU aluminium tariffs to the enormous benefit of Mr Deripaska, who owns the world's largest aluminium producer.

Well, the first thing to say is that there was no ban on reporting this and other questions, and BBC journalists immediately began looking into them. More importantly, when the BBC had its first opportunity to do a proper interview with Lord Mandelson following his reappointment to the cabinet, before the Osborne story broke, he was questioned robustly about the allegations (which you can watch here).

The reason the coverage so far has not been at the same level as that of George Osborne is that up until now there has been no similar specific allegation that Lord Mandelson has broken any laws. Nor, in Lord Mandelson's case, was there a specific, credible complainant in the same way as there was with Mr Osborne.

Nor does it appear at this stage (though questions are still being asked) that Lord Mandelson breached any EU code of conduct, however questionable his relationship with Mr Deripaska may or may not appear. Crucial to this, is the fact that while the UK ministerial code has rules about a perceived conflict of interest, the code of conduct for EU commissioners does not in the same way. Thus far the European Commission says he has done nothing wrong and has made it clear that the decision to cut aluminium tariffs followed a long debate amongst member states and was supported by them. It was not in his gift.

So, while the story was checked and questions were asked of Lord Mandelson by the BBC, the story did not make it on to our main news programmes. However in our coverage of the allegations against Mr Osborne, we have repeatedly made it clear that Lord Mandelson also faces questions about his relationship with Mr Deripaska.

We also spelt out the tangled relationships involved in the story in enough detail to allow audiences to make their own judgment about what role, if any, Lord Mandelson had in promoting the allegations against the shadow chancellor.

So, editorial decisions have been based on the seriousness of the allegations and the strength of the evidence. That will remain paramount in any future coverage of politicians who find themselves in the spotlight, though I suspect next summer there won't be quite such a rush to Corfu.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    "So, editorial decisions have been based on the seriousness of the allegations and the strength of the evidence."

    "We're afraid of Mandelson, but not of Osborne"

  • Comment number 2.

    Perhaps in future you should also take into consideration the character of the person making the allegations.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not sure if this explanation is good enough.

    No allegations of law-breaking were made against Osborne until Brown answered a planted question in the Commons yesterday - unless the BBC was already aware of the allegations and had been briefed by Labour early - this does not answer the early intense interest.

    The allegations were originally about a lack of judgement - and on this case both Mandelson and Osborne were jointly guilty. Given that Mandelson was in a position of power - more coverage should have been on him.

    Furthermore, the BBC shouldn't be hiding behind the letter of the law (both British and EU) and should highlight poor laws (as it does on shows like Watchdog). In this case - the party funding rules desperately need simplifying and EU law clearly need tightening.

    Regardless of whether Mandelson hasn't broken a law in Europe - he would have done if he had been acting for Britain - so surely a huge story about why EU is so lenient over conflicts of interest - particularly when it isn't particularly transparent or democratic is long-overdue.

    The Times can have it's scoop - it's the job of the BBC to investigate in an unbiased way. The spectacle of Peston reporting biased political gossip on his blog instead of business and economic issues was disgraceful. This is made worse given he is facing allegations from Osborne that he leaked sensitive market data and thus his reporting can be seen as a conflict of interest.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm no expert on journalism or politics but the coverage on this by the BBC does seem a little - full?
    My main surprise was Robert Peston, the business editor, who became involved in a political story and wrote:
    'The first thing to say about Nat Rothschild, whom I've met a couple of times, is that he is a tenacious, steely individual - who does not make allegations lightly.'
    The insinuation here is 'I know him and he is not a lier therefore someone else is not telling the truth'

    This is a very strange thing to say because a) he does not report on politics
    b) because you've met someone a couple of times does mean you know them or their motive and
    c) I expected better of a journalist who was doing a good job in the recent business climate and was just adding further hearsay which allows the BBC to be attacked.

    It could be forgiven as blogs do allow a little more flexability but to have him on national radio for his 'opinion' was a poor show indead.

    (this whole episode was handled badly: just look at the Paxman Heseltine interview on Newsnight - very painful for Mr Paxman!)

  • Comment number 5.

    You are just a bunch of labour lovers, and why don't you admit it?

  • Comment number 6.

    The different ways the two stories have been covered is startling. The accusations against Mandelson have been barely covered, indeed Nick Robinson 'resisted' covering them, and is now trying to claim he was 'resisting political pressure'. Then why did he not resist with Osbourne? The two stories are linked, but Mandelsons part was all but ignored by the BBC until late yesterday.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Steve, the main problem is that the BBC has been leading the rolling story of "Brown the superman" for the last couple of weeks. Although it has moderated its reporting with discussion of the financial crisis, there is a clear bias emerging in favour of the ruling party. This is not what the BBC should be doing. This story has only damaged its credibility on impartiality further.

    As for Mr Rothschild, if you knew that he was once a friend of Osbourne you'd also know that he has a somewhat "wild history" and is probably not pursuing a line of attack against a senior politician over.

  • Comment number 9.

    nortongriffiths @2
    Nat Rothschild's business relies on his reputation. If he gets a reputation for screwing over friends in public like this then his business is effectively over.

    He's got an awful lot to lose if he's shown in the wider world to be untrustworthy at the end of it.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm really not getting it here. Mandy has slid back to pole position-even better than before because he is not answerable to the Commons while in the other house. His relationships with the rich have always been a problem but we don't see it as part of national news on the 'main news programmes' . T Blair just loved the rich and powerful and was investigated in the cash for honours. And of course he was not by any means the only one .
    Yet the fact that Osbourne 'talked' to a rich oligarch is worth pursuing again and again while the country is in dire trouble economically and there are many stories out there about connections between all parties and rich powerful people.Your decisions look decidedly dodgy.

  • Comment number 11.

    "The reason the coverage so far has not been at the same level as that of George Osborne is that up until now there has been no similar specific allegation that Lord Mandelson has broken any laws."

    Does this mean that now you have discovered that there is no substance to the allegations that the law has been broken that the BBC will publicly apologise to George Osbourne?

    Of course I would expect such a public apology to be given much less coverage then the original allegation.

    Isn't checking the facts of a story supposed to be something that happens BEFORE the story goes to press?

    "So, editorial decisions have been based on the seriousness of the allegations and the strength of the evidence."

    So in this case where the allegation is serious enough to damage a career the only evidence that is required is a letter by someone with an axe to grind?

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree that the story needed reporting, although ITV News at 1.30 placed it second to the dreadful road accident in Cheshire whilst the BBC News at 1 led with it. What I am confused by is why Robert Peston was working on the story - surely this is entirely a political news story, the only aspect to it that was a business story was the aspect NOT reported widely by the BBC, the links between ex EU Commissioner Mandelson and an aluminium magnate. Whilst Nick Robinson's report did talk about this, Robert Peston concentrated instead on the allegation against Tory shadow chancellor George Osbourne.

    Maybe you could explain why this minor story needed two very senior reporters with massive coverage. There was no donation, therefore no illegality occured, therefore there is no major story.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry this does not wash. What do you mean the seriousness of the person making the allegations? How is this assessed? Do you take account of why that person might be making those allegations?

    I also thought it was confirmed in the news last night that soliciting a donation was in itself not an offence, provided it was not proceeded with.

    I know some will dismiss this I have hoestly never voted Tory but I do like to see a balance in the new coverage. The overwhelming impression is that the BBC have gone after this like a pack of dogs. It has not had anything like to same prominence on say ITV. Meanwhilst the PM appears to get a very easy ride with the Economics reporter last night trotting out the Brown line that the UK cannot be immune from world events. Surely some analysis of whether Govt policy has potentially exacerabted the problems we face?

    Robert Peston's blog was particularly disgraceful - stating that Rothschild was not a man to make such allegations lightly. Surely he should not be making such obviously personal judgments that tend to support one side of the case - the obvious implication was that Osbourne was lying.

    Lastly Peston had a clear conflict of interest between his need to maintain good business contacts with a leading businessman (Rothschild), through 'rubbing his back', against the need to be objective. This conflict clearly proved too much for him.

    Peston's obvious ambition will cause the BBC problems if he is not reined in. If it is discovered that Rothschild did make the allegation lightly then he would surely have to resign.

  • Comment number 14.

    2. I agree.

    My concern is the amount of time spent on the Osborne story as a percentage of news coverage - totally disproportionate given that no criminal act was committed.

    I am perturbed also by the news that Robert Peston keeps announcing. Having read his biography of Gordon Brown together with Tom Bower's biographies of GB, I have formed my own view.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think that your coverage of the Osborne story is entirely fair and well balanced given the allegations. No specific allegations have been made with reference to Peter Mendleson other than ndining with the Russian and that, presumably, is not a crime.

    Well done, BBC - you will never please everyone but, overall, you do a pretty good job.

  • Comment number 16.

    Sounds a bit fishy to me. I realise the seriousness of the allegations has to come into it, but surely the credibility of the allegations must count for something as well? As far as I can tell, it became obvious very quickly that the allegations against Osborne were nothing more than pure mischief-making and that there was absolutely no credible evidence that he'd done anything wrong.

    As for whether Mandelson had broken any laws, do you seriously think that's what's most important to your viewers? Here was a man controlling aluminium tariffs and accepting the hospitality of an aluminium billionaire. If that's not illegal, don't you think that 99.9% of your viewers would actually be demanding to know why the hell it isn't illegal?

    Some people may be quick to attribute motives to this appalling lack of editorial judgement at the BBC, accusing it of pro-Labour anti-Tory bias. I doubt that's true, as I much prefer to believe in cock-up theories over conspiracy theories. I suspect it's far more likely you simply misread the story and made the wrong decisions.

    I'd have a lot more respect if you just came out and said "sorry" rather than coming up with some half-hearted attempt at an explanation which, frankly, insults our intelligence.

  • Comment number 17.

    Your justification does not stand up to close scrutiny.
    You argue the prominence of the Osborne story was justified because Osborne may have acted illegally, "possible law-breaking". This was never an issue. No cash changed hands. Guilty of "crashingly poor judgement" maybe, but illegal no. It boils down to tittle-tattle, an accusation of "soliciting" and pay-back time. There won't be an investigation into this because there's nothing substantial to investigate.
    Secondly you use the defence of a "ministerial code". Osborne is not a government minister, Mandleson is. As EU trade commissioner he was asked to investigate Deripaska and that may have caused a conflict of interest. He is now a government minister and member of the cabinet. That alone means he should come under media scrutiny to a greater extent than Osborne.

  • Comment number 18.

    What a cop out.
    So you imply that Osborne is guilty and hence put the weight of your reporting that way. No trial? No evidence?
    Just come clean and admit you are scared of Mandelson. He has form for poor judgement (at best).

  • Comment number 19.

    What exactly is the charge against Osbourne? GB suggests their should be an inquiry by the appropriate authorities; about what exactly. As with Mandy, there is no proof that anything illegal has actually been done....

    A total shower, and fades into insignificance when compared to the blatant misleading performed by T Bliar about the FI donations - that disappeared pretty sharpish!

  • Comment number 20.

    Well said.

    Particularly pertinent for me is the point that Mandelson Did not and Could not make the decision re Aluminium tarifs "It was not in his gift"

    This is the "insinuation" made by Tory bloggers and indeed Cameron himself.

    Not directly saying but insinuating.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh dear. I guess its a case of if you are on weak ground, ignore the criticism and come out shouting.
    This all terribly disappointing, but nowadays not particularly surprising. Your comments do nothing to dispel the rather distasteful feeling that the BBC is indeed biased in favour of Nu- labour. I suppose the kindest thing one can say is that you and your like, are stuck in some Metropolitan media bubble and cannot stand back and see matters for what they are. Lord Reith must be turning in his grave.

  • Comment number 22.


    There has been such wide spread coverage of this non-issue by the BBC - who are supposed to be impartial.

    The BBC has it's own agenda on any number of topics from climate change through to politics.

    It is time to break up the monolith that is the BBC and reform the tax payer funded media.

    I favour giving independent companies the opportunity to produce 'BBC Branded' content, funded by the licence payer on annual contracts.

    As a pilot - lets compete the opportunity to deliver 'BBC Branded' news between ITN, Channel 4 and the current BBC team.

    Your weak defence is a sign that that the BBC have been caught fuelling stories planted by BBC spin doctors. Oh dear.

  • Comment number 23.

    "The reason the coverage [of Mandelson] so far has not been at the same level as that of George Osborne is that up until now there has been no similar specific allegation that Lord Mandelson has broken any laws. Nor, in Lord Mandelson's case, was there a specific, credible complainant in the same way as there was with Mr Osborne."

    There was no allegation that Osborne had broken the law. Soliciting a donation is not against the law, - even if he did so, which he denies. Rothschild is an old friend of Osborne who was miffed because his friend spilled the beans on Mandelson. It was a squabble between public schoolboys and you joined in and amplified it. Come on - you were out of order, particularly Peston.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Sir, you are missing the point - there was no law breaking. Therefore the story should not have become as big as it has.

    And some further points - politcial parties must be allowed to check if they can accept a donation, which it seems they did.

    You also talk about 'many BBC news outlets'. Why do we have to fund such a bloated organisation?

  • Comment number 25.

    "[H]e was questioned robustly about the allegations." I'm sure that I'm not the first person here to suggest that the robustness of the questioning of Mandelson is nothing compared to that of other news outlets. The robustness of Robinson's questioning of Osborne would be welcome the next time a New Labour politician is facing him.

    The fact that the BBC are having to defend their bias would suggest that there is some basis to the complaints.

  • Comment number 26.

    Steve I am afraid this just doesn't cut it. So because an allegation was made in a leter to The Times, this somehow warranted wall to wall coverage on BBC 24? I am a Liberal voter but have been surprised and really quite angry at the way this was presented and all this led in to the mother of slapdowns yesterday which I thoroughly enjoyed: Hesseltine VS Paxman who you could just see didn't really want to be asking the questions he had to.
    To clarify, you made a story out of mostly hear say, and then failed repeatedly to link it to Mandelson, the man as we all know, you are scared off (for some reason the normal voter will never understand). This is not why I pay my license fee. Not for you to play up to one party whilst showing bias to the other. You after all report news to everyone, paid by everyone. I am afraid you are wrong on this one, and would have liked to have seen more about Brown's rather embarrassing comment about the authorities being called in. What authorities would that be? The hear say authorities?
    No one comes out of this saga looking good. Brown looks like he has embraced the spin and backstabbing of Many. Mandy looks well... like Mandy... Osborne naive and the BBC has confirmed to me that it is no longer the news organisation to turn to (which started in my opinion with the Kelly fiasco). I have to say I am thoroughly dissapointed that this is the best excuse you have.

  • Comment number 27.

    Well, of course, one cannot entirely blame the BBC - Mandelson isn't stupid enough to have deployed his 'shock and awe' campaign against Osborne without being reasonably sure that it would be Osborne who would come off worst and that the Prince would be reasonably well hidden in the bunker when the flak began to fly..

    That said, I can't help thinking that in the 'post-Hutton' BBC, they just ain't willing to put their heads above the parapet in the way that they once would. Maybe you can prove me wrong.

    That said, they are probably 'frit' that Dave Cameron's Conservatives will want to chip away at the licence fee, so one wonders just how much 'heavy artillery' they will be willing to display against George Osborne.

  • Comment number 28.

    Steve Mawhinney - having read your justification for the difference in coverage between the Mandelson and Osborne stories, I have to say, your reasoning is perfectly sound and makes sense.

    But don't expect it to be sufficient for the influx of right-wing trolls who flood these boards. For them, no amount of common sense, logic or reason will change how they wish to portray the BBC.

    These people aren't interesting in reading editorial justifications. They're only interested in mud-slinging and seeking victim status.

  • Comment number 29.

    The law would be broken only if a donation was received and neither side has ever said a donation was made or accepted. In the context of that, the law breaking accusation seems rather tenuous at best.

    Secondly, an EU commissioner was reviewed by another EU body and cleared, hardly a mark of true independence. Would you accept a Conservative body clearing Osborne of any wrongdoing? I doubt it.

    Also, Mandleson's two previous departures from the cabinet would perhaps indicate that he is a man whose judgement has a track record of being brought into question; and given that, surely the latest accusations should be thoroughly reviewed.

  • Comment number 30.

    So, now that the BBC knows there is a great and genuine public interest over the Mandleson allegations, will the BBC be devoting as much time to investigating them as they have with those made against Osbourne...?

    I look forward to seeing every news and current affairs broadcast, every website and blog devoting days of headline coverage to investigating whether or not Mandleson has broken any rules, or is guilty of corruption in any way...

  • Comment number 31.

    "... while the UK ministerial code has rules about a perceived conflict of interest, the code of conduct for EU commissioners does not ..."

    That is surely the big story here. How dare they not have such rules? Is it cock-up or conspiracy that the beeb have not investigated this?

  • Comment number 32.

    Pull the other one

  • Comment number 33.

    I am pleased that the BBC consider that they need to justify their actions. However I believe the justification falls well short. It is clear that these allegations against Osborn were a "tit for tat", that in itself raises questions as to the reliability of them.

    The rapidity with which the PM's request that the matter be taken up with the authorities has been dispelled by those authorities highlights that this is a non story.

    The BBC were either blind to the lack of anything to investigate in the allegations, or were happy to be redirected away from Mandelson.

    The BBC now need to look at why a story that involved Mandelson (the master of spin) suddenly turned into a story about Osborne.

    There has been speculation that Mandelson pulled levers to get Rothschild to write the letter. If so why was this one time friend prepared to go to these extraordinary lengths in an attempt to damage another friend... what does he owe to Mandelson. does Mandelson really yeild such power?

    As they say - Follow the money.

    The BBC have been sidetracked by £50,000 that never changed hands - whilst business deals worth billions had taken place with the positive aid of Mandelson involving Russian Oligarchs who happen to invest in Rothschilds funds.

    That is where a Business editor should have been looking - reporting on Business. Instead he was keen to report on politics.

    Your justification does not explain why. As I stated at the outset, it falls well short.

  • Comment number 34.

    Sorry as I wanted to add another thing: As it had been established by that point that no money had changed hands and there was no proof that Osborne had solicited the donations, the story became one about his 'judgement' and how it 'looked bad' that he was hob-nobbing with billionaires.

    At which point, there was no difference between the Osborne and Mandelson stories - in neither case was their proof of wrong-doing, but in both cases there were questions that could be raised about their judgement (Mandelson's clear potential conflict of interests) and in both cases questions could be raised about how it would look to the public that they were hob-nobbing with billionaires. Please explain the difference in judgement on this one Steve? And treat your viewers with a bit more respect than you did with this statement.

  • Comment number 35.

    Comparison of two cases:

    1. You admit in another article: the Electoral Commission said it would not launch an inquiry, as "soliciting a donation is not an offence". So soliciting a donation is not an offence, even though Osborne denies even that.

    However, in the case of Mandelson you admit that he would have broken the UK ministerial code of conduct, although the EU rules are laxer, as indeed we have seen regarding expense claims.

    2. The sum involved in the Osborne affair was 50 thousand pounds. The sums involved in the Mandelson affair were millions of pounds.

    3. The Osborne case boiled down to the recollection of two people being different from the version of two others. There was no donation. There is no doubt that Mandelson enjoyed Deripaska’s hospitality and there is no doubt that the Russian benefited from the change in the rules regarding aluminium tariffs. There may be no connection but the issue is much more serious.

    4.Osborne met Deripaska briefly five times. He has also provided details of the meetings. Mandelson stayed on the oligarch’s yacht and has been silent about they might have discussed and also silent about any other meetings on other occasions.

    Frankly, I know which one I think is more serious.

  • Comment number 36.

    Typical Beeb. Mandleson pretty much ignored because he was not percived to have broken any law (according to EU judgement rather than UK Parliament/legal system) irrespective of the his judgement (or possible lack of it) in saying what he did. Funnily, Osborne has not broken any law - even if his judgement may be considered to have been, at best, poor. Why oh why do we continue to finance what is a flawed Corporation with its own very questionable judgement and seemingly biased views. Beeb - you are a hangover which we should now cure.

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear Mr Mawhinney,

    Your blog raises a couple of interesting points….

    1) You state – “…while the UK ministerial code has rules about a perceived conflict of interest, the code of conduct for EU commissioners does not in the same way”. Very true, but should not the media hold our trade commissioner – our representative – to the same ethical standards that we would expect from a minister of the crown, irrespective of the rules? After all, as I am sure you would agree – as EU Trade Commissioner, Mandleson held a position of greater importance and influence, than your average UK Minister. In his blog, your own political editor – Nick Robinson – has conceded that there was a clear conflict of interest; Mandelson has also been less than candid in declaring his relationship with Mr. Deripaska and his offices dealings with this tycoon go beyond mere Aluminum tariffs – as I am sure you are aware (see link to the Spectator below)

    Returning to the Robinson blog again – your political editor conceded that this potential conflict of interest was so serious, that had Mandelson been a Minister at the time, he almost certainly would have had to resign. So I am afraid your defense of no specific allegation of wrong-doing or law-breaking just does not hold water. In addition, I wondered if you could also ask Nick, why given his opinion – he has chosen not raise this point in his numerous TV and radio broadcasts?

    2) Your post also fails to answer a number of other points raised in the blogosphere. Why for instance, was Robert Preston – your economics editor – so prominent in his reporting? Why didn’t he or any of the BBC reporters interviewing him, raise the issue of his potential conflict of interest? Re: Tory complaints of his reporting vis-à-vis the financial crisis? You must admit, that Gordon Brown’s biographer seems to benefit from an inordinate amount of insider information; all to New Labour’s benefit.

    3) Then there is your coverage of the Osborne affair itself. Over the past two days the allegation against him has subtly changed. Initially he was charged with soliciting a donation, but now Rothschild’s witnesses only confirm that Osborne was interested in a donation. The two are not the same – one would be illegal, the other not. Yet, BBC reports have consistently and wrongly claimed that Rothschild’s witnesses have substantiated the original claim against the Shadow chancellor – they have not.

    Now yesterday the PM called for an enquiry into this affair. Again Nick Robinson (this time on the Daily Politics) conceded that this was little more than a political stunt, designed to prolong the story for another day - as no donation has been accepted and there was no prima fascia evidence of Osborne’s guilt. In this vain, Sky News reported yesterday that the electoral commission confirmed that they have neither heard of nor see any evidence of wrong-doing. So whilst I can understand why you reported Brown’s call for an investigation, why did you not give the full context? e.g. Nick Robinson’s assessment of why the call had been made; Downing Street’s floundering response to questions of who should investigate Mr. Osborne and why; and the response from the Electoral Commission. Sky managed all of the above – the BBC did not.

    4) Previous – I’m referring of course to the BBC’s form in these affairs. As the Daily Mail accurately records, your journalists have a history of going soft on Mandelson in particular and New Labour in general. That perception has now gone international. I read a story concerning the left wing bias at the BBC on MSNBC (hardly a bastion of Conservatism) only the other day. I have also seen similar articles in the Telegraph, The Times and even the Guardian. Former BBC journalists have publicly commented upon it and even public opinion polls have shown that people from the centre-right, perceive the BBC as biased against them. While the same cannot be said for the centre-left. All of this should tell you something – you have a problem in your news-rooms, but I’m sure you will just dismiss me as another nut. Unfortunately, it is this attitude that will see the end of the license fee and that is a shame, because personally I would like to keep a nationally funded, national broadcaster. The BBC does many great things, but at the moment, your political news coverage is not one of them.

  • Comment number 38.

    It was fair enough for Nick Robinson to get involved in a big way with the Osborne story, but what got me really annoyed is that Robert Peston decided this political trivia was more important to him than the dreadful economic news being reported by the hour.

    Plus, it would be nice to see Gordon Brown being Paxoed occasionally by BBC reporters - why not grill him as effectively as opposition spokesmen appear to be?

  • Comment number 39.

    No comment about the THREE letters that Rothschild wrote and amended then?

    The less said about Preston's ridiculous attempts to help out his Labour friends the better especially since it was Osborne who asked for an inquiry into Preston's actions re bank problems etc. No conflict of interest for Preston?

    How about Mandy winging an invite to get on Paul Allen's yacht in 2005 when he was overseeing a million dollar fine on Microsoft at the time? No conflict there either for the BBC to investigate surely? Cough.

    "He was not a welcome guest and was avoided by many of the other party-goers who were only too well aware that the European Commission had fined Microsoft a record €497 million on competition grounds. Microsoft was engaged in a bitter legal battle to have the fine overturned.

    With billions at stake it was surely inappropriate for the trade commissioner to meet socially with the second largest shareholder in Microsoft when it was in a fierce battle with the Commission. Over to you Peston." (Guido Fawkes)

  • Comment number 40.

    And why did you not critically attack the blackmail which appears to be directed against the Tory shadow chancellor? ie If you say more you'll regret it.... To make public threats against a possible future member of our government is, to use press lingo, astonishing. THAT was the story. Why accept such an uncsrupulous person's word?

    You have tarnished Osborne and not linked that story with the Mandelson one. Mandelson was, at the time, in a position where his actions influenced actual EC policy wheras Osborne is in opposition.

    And why does the BBC justify itself bt referring to the (Murdoch) press coverage. Wasn't Murdoch's gin palace there too?

    This whole story stinks to high heaven and the BBC has fallen for the spin hook, line and sinker.

    When you finish self-justifying perhaps you will read the responses and ask yourself if perhaps you haven't fallen for more vile spin. Sure, Osborne was foolish but your coverage has been fetlock touchingly nauseating.

    Thank goodness we now have the web so we don't have to rely on the BBC for news.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm afraid that you have got this one wrong.

    The Mandelson aspect of the story is far more important. The BBC should be rigourously investigating and reporting why Mr Mandelson felt it was appropriate to have a relationship with Mr Deripaska in light of the lucrative opt out that the former EU Commissioner negotiated.

    I am so annoyed with the BBC over this issue I have finally signed up for an account to express my utter dissatisfaction with your decision.

  • Comment number 42.

    The point was and is that for such 'gatherings' to continue gathering and be mutually beneficial then confidentiality is paramount.

    Osborne broke the golden rule like a junior Eton wotter, doing enormous damage to future gatherings.

    Yes, Rothschild's business depends upon his reputation. And he is saying to the world via The Times, anybody, ANYBODY who cannot be trusted to keep his mouth shut about what goes on during my 'gatherings' is out on his neck.

    Osbourne can no longer be trusted in the 'fraternity.'

    Well, in my view.

  • Comment number 43.

    I note that this article was written by the Editor of Political News, with a link to it from the Political pages.

    I wonder if the Editor of the Business unit, Jeremy Hillman, will be giving an explanation as to why Peston was so biased?

  • Comment number 44.

    I have read carefully the BBC's rebuttal of the accusation that they have been biased in their coverage of the Mandleson/Osborne corruption allegations.

    They defend their coverage by asserting that whereas no allegation of criminal behaviour has been made against Mandelson it has against Osborne. I'll pass over the criminal allegations as I'm not a lawyer (whilst noting that 200 million euro is involved in the Mandelson case but only 50,000 pounds in the Osborne case). However, most of the BBC coverage has questioned Osborne's judgement rather than any question of criminality. So why is Mandelson's judgement not discussed? And why does the BBC applaud Brown's judgement in stoking the flames of this controversy on the very day that he admits that the UK is entering a recession?

    I repeat what I posted earlier. It is very difficult to avoid reaching the conclusion that the BBC has been biased on its coverage of this particular issue. Whether it is generally biased is another matter. An admission of bias in a single instance would support the BBC rather than undermine it, but then I doubt we have less chance of that than Gordon Brown apologising for steering the UK into recession.

    My original comment (on another blog) was:

    Quote: It is of course correct for the BBC to run this story, but they have become obsessed with it. I have just watched 'The Daily Politics' and Andrew Neil has run the story again, with nothing new to stay. Questions hostile to the Conservative Party were presented as statements of fact. Reference was made to politicians, yachts, and billionaires in the plural as thought this was systemic rather than isolated. References to Peter Mandelson were downplayed or ignored with the statement that 'we covered that yesterday'. My recollection is that most of yesterday was spent talking about George Osborne. I don't lightly say that the BBC is biased, but I think the weight of evidence in this particular case is that they are. It's actually shameful for a public sector broadcaster to find itself in this position. Endquote

  • Comment number 45.

    Will a moderator tell me why my comments has been referred? I have said nothing that breaches house rules.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hmmm - perhaps the BBC would now care to comment on the Bernie Ecclestone saga, which years after the event is looking very bad for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - here is M. Parris from The Times on this topic:

    "And there across the room was the political commentator Andrew Rawnsley, suddenly in the news. He looked so tense. His latest book had just been serialised: the book in which he claimed that Gordon Brown, then the Chancellor, after appearing to deny in a BBC interview that he knew anything about Bernie Ecclestone's donation, had returned to the Treasury in a 'red mist'.

    'Brown raged at his staff,' says the book. '"I lied. I lied. My credibility will be in shreds. I lied. If this gets out I will be destroyed."' "

  • Comment number 47.


    That is a pretty poor post. Have you got any of your own views on the saga you want to share, or you just want to side with one party without explaining how you think the BBC was justified? poor.

  • Comment number 48.

    "The seriousness of the allegations and the evidence for them" are the basis of your editorial decisions.

    So the Osborne story is more serious because it involves a possible breach of the law

    (although no law was breached, because no donation was accepted, because this was a discussion about whether or not it was appropriate to take a donation and it was decided that it was not appropriate)

    (although at a secondary level it only involves £50,000 even if it were accepted)

    But the Mandelson story is less serious because it does not involve a breach of EU regulations (because there are none)

    yet it would have far more wide-reaching implications for a magnate's bank balance

    I just wonder where the sense of perspective is here? The sense of natural justice?

    And the strength of the evidence?

    Osborne. A letter from a friend? The possibility of a witness to the conversation?

    Mandelson. Osborne's testimony. That of Mandelson's own personal assistant in Moscow (Ben Wegg-Prosser) on his blog?

    I really don't care much about the story. I do care that the BBC runs scared of those running the Labour party.

    Did Hutton teach us/the BBC nothing if not to be more confident of its stories?

  • Comment number 49.

    You can try justifying the disproportionate coverage of Osborne all you like, but your explanation does not convince me one little bit. The Labour Party spin machine seems to have the BBC well under the thumb.

  • Comment number 50.

    Here the BBC is trying to steer a very fine line by presenting the facts and not rushing to judgement. Facts will eventually clarify the situation. Of course Mandelson and Osborne should have been more prudent and not accepted any favours however small. Public life requires squeaky clean dealings. The press is quick to pounce and it is very difficult for politicians who hug the limelight to escape relentless scrutiny. This saga will go on for quite some time until journalists find another scalp!

  • Comment number 51.

    Good explanation from an left leaning organisation that supports without question the policies of the EU.

    The Mandelson Aluminium affair is a direct link with impropriety whilst Osborne is the victim of he said - you said.

    The Osborne story never justified the news lead position.

  • Comment number 52.

    Not going to well in the comments is it Steve?

    It would be nice, if you tried to answer some of the points raised.

  • Comment number 53.

    If the BBC thought there was nothing wrong with their coverage on the Osborne story then why go to such lengths to deny it? Me thinks they protesteth too much. There is no denying that the BBC reporters Nick Robinson and Robert Peston in particular are treated very favourably by Labour and by the PM in particular. Where has Robert Peston being getting all his scoops from? The most obvious answer is from inside the Government. There is no such thing as a free lunch in life and albeit George Osborne should not have left himself wide open as he has, the BBC ought to have learnt by now that it should not allow itself to be so closely aligned to Labour as it has done. No one wants to see
    reporters sticking the knife in to anyone for the sake of it; but the BBC need to be impartial and reporting events in a balanced and fair manner. Sadly they have let us down since the rebirth of Brown - which has been orchestrated by Mandleson and Campbell. To have played into the hands of Mandleson as the BBC has done over the Osborne story and the credit crunch is quite extraodinary. What hold does Mandleson have over the media? He was like this when he was last in Government. What are they all afraid of? Is it, "do as I want," or you will get nothing? Is this the deal? Certainly Robert Peston would not want to upset him or he won`t get another thing - which in a strange way may have a silver lining and stop people panicking so much and may calm the markets down. We watch with interest!

  • Comment number 54.

    It has been established that no illegal act has been committed by osborne, though like Mandi his meetings must be questioned.

    however it is the level of coverage that disappoints me. get some balance in life! Also why not report on why rothschild has gone from being a friend willing to host Osborne on summer hols to suggesting a visit to court, why such a swing? has rothschild been got at by number 10? was osborne set up? Is this simply a baby throwing a toy out the pram because his friends are not friends with each other?

  • Comment number 55.

    how come some comments written at 2.04 are still awaiting moderation at 3.27 when some written at 2.11 - 2.15 have been published?Are you taking them in strict time order & checking with lawyers or picking and choosing who you are to moderate?

  • Comment number 56.

    Mr Mawhinney

    On last night's Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman resorted to asking Mr Heseltine the same question 4 times. Mr Heseltine answered the question quite concisely the first time.

    Your job is to report, not pin things on people. Ask a question, get an answer. If you don't get an answer, by all means ask again. But in the example above, Mr Paxman looks ridiculous and quite worryingly prejudiced.

    Prejudice based on class is just as bad as racism and any other form of prejudice. So, from a non Tory, non Labour, non interested perspective, please move on.

    The nation is really really bored now - a non-story. Could you also refund Robinson and Peston's salaries for the past 48 hours to the license payer - they are wasting our time with our money.

    Cheers chap.

  • Comment number 57.

    The coverage of this story has really got on my nerves.

    Has George Osborne broken the law?- No. Is there any evidence he broke the law?- No.

    All we get is Nick Robinson & co. talking about "what he didn't say" and giving a knowing wink.


  • Comment number 58.

    does this story deserve the attention it is getting?
    no but as expected any chance of getting one over on the opposition and the government will use it. and after the first day its become boring.
    with real news stories being forced to the back whilst this story continues.
    wether osborne did or didnt do something wrong is to be sorted out by those incharge not the popular neu labour loving media.
    you never know he may be found guilty of miss deeds and punished just like others have been with a higher paid job a peerage,
    talk about jokes.

  • Comment number 59.

    #20 Eatonrifle

    "Particularly pertinent for me is the point that Mandelson Did not and Could not make the decision re Aluminium tarifs "It was not in his gift"

    This implies that something else was in "his gift".

  • Comment number 60.

    You explanation is unconvincing.

    Will you be broadcasting a clarification?

  • Comment number 61.

    At risk of being accused of not offering a skilled argument, I have read this 'justification' whilst watching the stern of a horse in a field over yonder, and what has just poured forth from the latter will at least serve the rhubarb, if not comparing in volume and aroma.

    I look forward to a minion being shipped in to Newswatch at dawn to read it out again to Mrs. Noddy.

  • Comment number 62.

    All very long and worthy as a defence of the BBC view. However, what about the following?
    1) Just why have Nat Rothschild and George Osborne fallen out in such an extreme way?
    2) Why would Nat Rothschild choose to go so public on this?
    3) Did Mandleson play some part in luring Osborne into this situation?
    After all, it is Mandleson who overnighted on the yacht, and simply is not good enough to say he wasn't in the UK governement at the time, when he could be the key pivotal issue in this rather boring story
    4) Is there any relationship between Mandleson's suddenly improved relations with Gordon Brown, and these events?
    5) Why does it all sound so very spiteful and vindictive - like a lover's tiff?
    6) If Osborne met up with say Richard Branson , another billionaire, on some holiday would this raise eyebrows? I know thee issue is apparently a request for funding, but if that is really so, why is there is so much emphasis ion a Russian billionaire's yacht?
    7) Why should any of us care about these events., when in fact, nothing concrete passed hands, and it is entirely unclear whether Osborne raised the issue, or was he present when someone else suggested the issue? Osborne after all only quotes his "witness" as saying it was briefly raised.

    If he is so sure of this, let's have all the details of the speech.
    8) What's the Russian go to say about it all?

  • Comment number 63.

    The counter-argument that there was no ban on reporting on Mandelson and that BBC journalists immediately began looking into it is weak.

    As stated by many others, Osbourne broke no laws.

    The level of scrutiny levelled at Osbourne by the BBC is unjustified and Mawhinneys response is slippery and uncompelling.

    Why pick on one and not the other?

  • Comment number 64.

    All very long and worthy as a defence of the BBC view. However, where are the questions
    1) Just why have Nat Rothschild and George Osborne fallen out in such an extreme way?
    2) Why would Nat Rothschild choose to go so public on this?
    3) Did Mandleson play some part in luring Osborne into this situation?
    After all, it is Mandleson who overnighted on the yacht, and simply is not good enough to say he wasn't in the UK governement at the time, when he could be the key pivotal issue in this rather boring story
    4) Is there any relationship between Mandleson's suddenly improved relations with Gordon Brown, and these events?
    5) Why does it all sound so very spiteful and vindictive - like a lover's tiff?
    6) If Osborne met up with say Richard Branson , another billionaire, on some holiday would this raise eyebrows? I know thee issue is apparently a request for funding, but if that is really so, why is there is so much emphasis ion a Russian billionaire's yacht?
    7) Why should any of us care about these events., when in fact, nothing concrete passed hands, and it is entirely unclear whether Osborne raised the issue, or was he present when someone else suggested the issue? Osborne after all only quotes his "witness" as saying it was briefly raised.

    If he is so sure of this, let's have all the details of the speech.
    8) What's the Russian go to say about it all?

  • Comment number 65.

    Obviously I must be missing something, but why would Nick Robinson report on European Commissioners, or the BBC investigate the Commission from Westminster?
    Isn't that what Mark Mardell is for?

  • Comment number 66.

    Storm over Corfu?
    Storm over the BBC more like!

    I am an angry licence payer who is sick and tired of what is supposed to be the impartial BBC.
    You have a contract with the viewing public to be impartial and fair minded politically.

    When you break that contract why should the viewing public pay your over inflated salaries?

  • Comment number 67.

    Oh and see, AGAIN a story is up on this. BBC when wil it stop. Chris Huhne? The man who couldn't even make it to leader of the Lib Dems now warrants a mention? The world truly has gone mad, and my support for your organisation is now gone. Even people here in my office who haven't got the slightest bit of interest in politics have commented on the coverage. We have the BBC on here on our TV Screens (the news channels) and it was switched off yesterday to another channel (sky as it happens) as it was just too much. You have lost goodwill with this one Steve. I hope to see a change in tone tonight on Newsnight (and God whoever it is, not Emily Maitlis, her interview with Cameron was an embarrassment).

  • Comment number 68.

    Why did Nick Robinson reveal that the Tory party put him under pressure to run with the Mandleson story? If both sides regularly do this to him as he says, when was the last time he made mention of Labour putting pressure on him to run a story about the Tory party?

  • Comment number 69.

    I have had 3 out of 4 posts on this subject rejected. Why? There only be one reason and that is because I questioned in normal language the lack of even handedness by the BBC. I also referred to the fact that many people who own shares directly, or indirectly through their pension plans, saw the value of their bank stocks savaged after Robert Peston's report on the main banks meeting with the Treasury. If the government leaked this information they have a very serious case to answer. Would I be right in thinking that the BBC do not want to publish any reference to the Peston story as it is touching a very raw nerve?

  • Comment number 70.

    GB is having problems controlling the Blairites around conference time. PM has been stirring, agitating and assisting the "challenger". How can GB stop this?

    As in The Godfather, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Bring PM into Govt, offer him a peerage, his vanity will demand he takes and give him the business portfolio. PM accepts this because he is now back and virtually untouchable. Right where he can backstab GB at his leisure.

    But, GB knew about Deripaska and has all the details, so he tells PM to bury it, hence the GO smear. This all blows over as a storm in a teacup by next week and GB has pulled off a masterstroke.

    He can effectively now crush PM at any time by setting up an Inquiry into the Corfu Affair, he has PM and his cronies in his pocket, including a Rothschild who was silly enough to get involved. He's hurt the Tories badly and he looks whiter than white. The pressure is applied to Rothschild get his banking buddies to sort out this mess and in 18 months GB goes to the country having saved us all. If he throws PM to the wolves GB says well against my better judgement I was pressured to bring back PM (by the "challenger"), who I personally loathe but I did it for the country, I put my personal feelings aside for all of you in an effort to solve this crisis

    The Prince has just found himself trapped by the King, the handcuffs are ermine lined, but I doubt he will want to lose his peerage so he'll be GBs attack dog from now on.

    This could be GBs Falklands or his Poll Tax only time will tell

  • Comment number 71.

    Argue a point 'robustly' with Lord Mandelson?

    He could argue there was still breath in a corpse.

    This is flabby journalism and you know it.

  • Comment number 72.

    Im sorry I do not accept your explanation, I think Robinson and Peston set out to destroy a decent man and I dont know anyone of whatever political persuasion who thinks otherwise.

    Everyone has noticed since Cambell beat you over the Gilligan affair you have shown favour to the Labour Party and have not reported fairly.

    Mandelson is the real story and you have not reported this potential impropriety!

  • Comment number 73.

  • Comment number 74.

    I notice that Cassius has picked you up for this article

    in which, far from being even handed and defending your reporters you actually add your own unfounded allegations to the story.

    Are you going to correct your post above?

  • Comment number 75.


    Why didn't your coverage include consideration of Rothschild's possible motives? Yes, he was no doubt cross with Osborne for gossiping but he had two months to complain about that but did nothing (in public at least).

    Mandelson is now in charge of business regulation and we are promised much tighter regulation on financial companies - especially those nasty hedge funds like the one Rothschild runs. Perhaps this explains why Rothschild feels his friendship with Mandy is more important than that with Osborne.

  • Comment number 76.

    Oh come ON!
    What a weasley attempt to deny bias. You really have made it worse.
    Of course the BBC having been shredded by Alistair Campbell over the death of Dr David Kelly - don't forget the BBC was correct - might make anyone wary but this apparent craven obeisance to the spin and grubby chicanery of New Labour is demeaning.
    The only 'allegation' of wrong doing against Osborne comes from Brown - the same Brown who brought back the discredited Mandelson.
    No doubt the BBC is scared stiff of upsetting such a vindictive cabal: Campbell, Mandelson, Brown and Blair who are in thrall to Big Money but it should try a bit harder to rediscover its backbone or give up pretending to be a public service.
    Bullies will remain bullies as long as they are allowed to get away with it.

  • Comment number 77.

    It is important that our politicians are bought to account if they are breaking parliamentary rules, but sadly this rarely happens as in the F1/Blair affair, but this is such a non story blown up by the BBC because of their Labour bias....surely the enobling of Mandleson and this mucky bit of journalism can't be linked....does the BBC and the media really think we are that stupid?

  • Comment number 78.

    Extremely relevant to this issue is an article written by ex-Newsnight producer (Sir) Anthony Jay.

    Entitled "Confessions of a BBC Liberal", he sets out precisely how he thinks the BBC has got to where it is now. I am more than sure that Sir himself would not object one iota to my including a small extract.

    He talks about how, in the 1960s at the BBC:

    "...We saw ourselves as part of the intellectual elite, full of ideas about how the country should be run. Being naive in the way institutions actually work, we were convinced that Britain’s problems were the result of the stupidity of the people in charge of the country.

    This ignorance of the realities of government and management enabled us to occupy the moral high ground. We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world, upright people in a corrupt world, compassionate people in a brutal world, libertarian people in an authoritarian world.

    We were not Marxists but accepted a lot of Marxist social analysis..."

    Andrew Marr admits it, Robin Aitken, who worked for the BBC for 25 years tells us how he'd have "fared better as a paedophile than a Conservative at the BBC"

    Can the BBC just try a little harder to strike a balance? No-one wants a Tory supporting BBC, least of all me. But the bias is certainly palpable at the moment.

  • Comment number 79.

    The stench of bias from the Augean BBC stable is becoming overwhelming. No attempted spraying of air freshener such as this can conceal it.

  • Comment number 80.

    Sorry chum, it won't wash. You've been rumbled and you know it.

    How does your explanation square with last night's Newsnight package by David Grossman, followed by the Paxman - Heseltine interview. A clearer case of obvious bias is hard to imagine. Just a selection of Grossman quotes:

    "hob-nobbing with the super rich", "out of touch", "bending the rules to raise funds", "living lives of rare privilege", all to a soundtrack of the theme from Brideshead Revisited and a liberal splash of old Oxford University and Bullingdon Club photos.

    The intention of the package was quite clear: we can't prove the allegation, and even if we could it wouldn't be illegal, so we'll have a go at his "judgement" instead, which by an amazing coincidence plays straight into the hands of the NuLab spin meisters.

    BBC bias in favour of the party of government is nothing new, and probably understandable to an extent, given who holds the purse strings. But declaring class war on the Tory party is well beyond the BBC remit and frankly we deserve better.

  • Comment number 81.


    Sophie may have questioned "robustly about the allegations" but he didn't answer the questions at all.
    She asked "how well did you know him" no answer.
    She then asked if it showed a lack of judgement or a conflict of interest and was told basically to mind her own business and and an implied don't go there or else .

    The problem is that the BBC is Institutionally biased to the point that those in it doesn't recognise that it is. The question that the BBC has to answer is: What rule did Osborne break, being a prate isn't a rule, but then he only had tea on the boat, by all accounts Mr Mandleson slept on board.
    The current corporate wide ban on the use of the word crisis is a case in point, no doubt you will continue with the belief being pedaled by Mr Brown that this crisis is an American/World wide crisis without any acknowledgment that a fair percentage of it is locally grown, after all the AIG machinations seem to have been helped along in the City and the overseas borrowing that has fuelled the rising credit has both in the public and private sector is not reflected in Germany where the bank problems have been caused by them buying toxic loans from the USA rather than their own credit fuelled growth.

    The facts are that we in the UK are in a "Sir Richard Mottram" situation brought about by this government. If you don't understand what I mean check out wikipedia.

  • Comment number 82.

    Sorry, also meant to say, since there's nothing to this story, there'll be no chance of it getting aired on Question Time tonight then?

    Aye, right.

  • Comment number 83.

    Or is the BBC's different treatment of Labour and the Conservatives over this issue answered by the reported comments of Peter Knowles, editor of the BBC’s parliamentary programmes, where he appeared to be saying 'the BBC should lay off Gordon Brown because Labour was in trouble’!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    When are the BBC going to prove it is not bias and provide the detailed investigation into Mandelson's behaviour?

    After the Kelly affair the BBC has now become the Goverment's Ministry of Truth ( the BBC inspired Orwell's MiniTruth in "1984") while NuLabour are in power they will follow the Brown/Mandelson/Cambell version of events and when the Tories take over then the Government Broadcasting Corps will follow their line or risk being broken up.

    The coruption appear to be from top to bottom of GBC news.

  • Comment number 85.

    Pancha_Chandra wrote:
    Here the BBC is trying to steer a very fine line by presenting the facts and not rushing to judgement.

    If that is true then the BBC would not have published the rumours about Osbourne until after they had confirmed them (and realised that no laws were broken).

    The sad fact is that the BBC saw a red mist and went in for the kill where if they had done their research they would have realised that the story was no where near as juicy as the one they ran with.

  • Comment number 86.

    When can we look forward to the Beeb investigating the F1/Ecclestone affair with the equal vigour it used on this non-story?

    And you wonder why people are getting hacked off with your bias, are asking that the Beeb be broken up and are refusing to pay their licence fees?

  • Comment number 87.

    It has been clear from the outset that George Osborne had committed no offence yet the BBC has run this so-called story for the last two days as if virtually nothing else in the world mattered. You have completely lost all sense of proportion. It is of more than a little significance that the son of a Labour peer, Robert Peston, has cast aside his brief as business editor to push this nonsense for all he is worth. The BBC has let its Labour loving instincts come to the fore.

  • Comment number 88.

    Disgraceful - it just will not wash.

    We will attack Osborne endlessly over a non story - no money changed hands. All you have is two versions of a conversation with no way of knowing what is right or wrong. You have completely ignored the reasons why Rothchild is acting as he is

    On the other hand you completely ignore the behaviour of Mandelson. Mandelson goes to see Russian, the EU position changes and the Russian gets even richer than he already is. There are vague echoes of Ecclestone and the £1million donation here.

    Please report things fairly. The BBC has given Brown endless wall to wall coverage for the last three weeks with no analysis of the mountain of debt he has built up and the ways he has damaged our economy. You have been content to carry his line about all our problems coming from America. Now a spate of Tory Bashing over a non story.

    The behaviour of Robert Peston ( the supposed business editor ) and his nu labour blog is particularly bad

    Shame on all of you. We pay for you - remember why you are there - to report accurately rather than be the puppets of the black withered hands of Peter Mandelson

  • Comment number 89.

    Only two words of comment on this: Kelly and Milligan.

    He who pays the piper still calls the tune, I guess.

  • Comment number 90.

    What you at the BBC need to remember is that you are a taxpayer funded organisation and said taxpayers face imprisonment if they do not pay your licence fee. Taxpayers come in all political colours and none and your coverage should reflect this. No matter how many times you try to say your not biased the coverage of the Osborne story has shown that you are. The Mandelson and Osborne stories should have been reported in equal measure and the viewers left to come to their own conclusion.

    In your post you seem to be saying that you didn't cover the Mandelson angle because the EU says he hasn't done wrong but you covered the Osborne story, so prominently, because he may have. Well excuse me but have the EU investigated Mandelson? And could you please tell us what Osborne has actually done that has been PROVEN and is illegal?

  • Comment number 91.

    Not convinced at all....

    But surprised you haven't considered the possibility of a New Blue Dawn at the next election. What will happen to your cosy lefty pals then?

    I would not be surprised if you were thrown to the privatising wolves. My own solution would be to sell off the profitable bits and keep news and current affairs, classical music, dance and drama, radios 3 & 4 as a subscription channel which would probably be cheaper than the current licence fee/tax.

    A condition of this would be that no-one should be employed in news and current affairs who has a prior political affiliation.

  • Comment number 92.

    Robert Peston is a well known supporter of the Labour party and of Brown in particular. I bet you couldn't name a well known supporter of the Tory party that is in an equivalent high profile position working at the BBC. Says it all really!

  • Comment number 93.

    I've always been vocal in my dismissal of allegations of BBC anti-Conservative bias, but the way you have dealt with this has proved me wrong. You are clearly going down the 'on balance, I think we got it about right' road. Well, time to think again, because you were well out of line.

  • Comment number 94.

    Since accusations of bias are apparently beyond the scope of the Freedom of Information Act, we have to take it on trust that the BBC is capable of recognizing and robustly tackling the blatant bias in recent news coverage.

    However, the defensive nature of this article makes me doubt that is the case. While Peston and Robinson should be being dragged over the coals, you seem more interested in making excuses.

  • Comment number 95.

    Extra extra, BBC editor claims news output is unbiased...

    Well it seems to me that the hectoring hand of Alistair Campbell is back pulling the strings of the Beeb. You're either complicit or running scared, which one is it?

    You guys know the writing's on the wall for your poll tax funding model once this incompetent shower are voted out in 2010, so I suppose I can't blame you too much for doing everything in your power to keep them in power.

    The trouble is that the internet exposes your inherent bias so obviously that you are no longer getting away with it. Even people who have little interest in politics are now noticing it - the game's up Steve.

  • Comment number 96.

    Seems pretty clear - and well covered in the comments.

    Even if the accusations against Osbourne had been true, they would not justify any official enquiry. So that covers his part of the action in corfu.

    What about mandlesons part of the action -- haven't looked at that yet have you?

    I find it very interesting that you admit that the BBC takes everything out of the EU at face value.

    I think the BBC should note that British standards and EU standards are different, and things that are acceptible to the EU are not necisarily acceptible to the British.

    Further it is disapointing that a news organisaiton should take anything from anywhere at face value -- news is likely be in what you aren't told, or are told incorrectly.

    Have you been doing this job long?

  • Comment number 97.

    The bbc coverage on this issue has bent over backwards for mandelson.

    remember the hutton report ? don't cover a story unless there are 2 sources ?

    "The BBC also learned that Mr Rothschild was willing to go to court to back up his claim and had another witness who would support his story."

    did you speak to this second witness ?

    no you didn't. if you had done so you would have said that you did speak to him.

    where was the second source to corroborate rothshild's verison of events ?

    i think the bbc is biased to the labour party. my best friend agrees with me and i am willing to go to court. according to your rules i must be correct in what i say ?

  • Comment number 98.

    Mr Mawhinney
    when in a hole stop digging eh?

    You and your cohorts have been rumbled and nothing you and the BBC say will ever be believed anymore.

    The BBC days are now numbered and I would suggest you start looking for another job in the private sector. I doubt they would have you of course as this is the real world.

    Its over......get used to it.

  • Comment number 99.

    As the political editor you may be interested in a story that I have just highlighted on Pestons blog.

    It relates to errors of judgement admitted by Greenspan, that were identical to those judgements made by Gordon Brown in Treasury press releases.

    It is comment 227 on the "Runs on countries" blog post.

    As it relates to errors that led to the hundreds of billion pound bank bail out it seemed appropriate to mention it on the business blog.

    However as it also involves Gordon Brown perhaps it should also be picked up by the political editors, So that we can have full coverage of this error of judgement that Greenspan has admitted to that is identical to the error made by Gordon Brown.

    Will the political team now be demanding an answer from Brown as to whether he also admits to the error of judgement?

    If he does it will be front page news, so must be a story worth pursuing.

    The evidence is there in the press release, backed up with Greenspans own admission.

  • Comment number 100.

    Mr Mawhinney, are you trying to convince the public or just yourself?

    Come clean and admit that you've got this one badly wrong.


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