European Parliament Elections

election voting paper

Polling Day for the European elections in the UK is on Thursday 23 May. This is the relevant section of the Election Guidelines: 

There will be no coverage of the election campaign on polling day, from 00.30 until polls close at 22.00 on TV, radio or bbc.co.uk. However, online sites will not have to remove archive reports. Coverage will be restricted to factual accounts with nothing which could be construed as influencing the ballots.

No opinion poll on any issue relating to the election may be published until after the polls have closed throughout the European Union (ie Sunday 26 May).

Whilst the polls are open throughout Europe, it is a criminal offence to broadcast anything about the way in which people have voted in that election or to forecast the election result, which includes how a particular party or candidate may have fared, based on how people have voted.

Additional Guidance - on the use of Exit / Opinion polls before voting ends in European elections

As the guidelines set out, publishing the results of exit polls (or any data about how people say they have actually voted) before voting has finished elsewhere in the EU is, under UK Election law, a criminal offence (with a possible gaol sentence attached!). There will be plenty of exit polls (outside the UK) and they will be reported before that time, especially online and across social media generally - not least by the European Parliament itself.

But we must not publish such results, in the UK (including Gibraltar), before 2200 BST on Sunday 26 May. This also applies to social media including, for instance, re-tweeting.

However: This restriction does not prevent us talking about the fact that there are exit polls, nor does it prevent us reporting how people might be reacting to them (e.g. "there's jubilation in Party X headquarters in Paris - they've seen the exit polls and believe they've won ...").

As we know, though, exit polls can be wrong ... so the reaction of parties and other commentators seeing them should always be in the context of them not yet having any sort of confirmation of actual results.

As a rule of thumb - avoid the numbers, and source our reporting as much as possible to the parties / officials themselves and not to any exit or opinion polling information.

It's probably a good idea before 2200 BST to include a line that makes it clear to the audience that "electoral law prevents us giving you the results of exit polls".

And please note: this restriction does not apply to other opinion polls, such as, for instance, voting intention for a General Election, which are reportable as normal. So too is speculation about the European election itself, as long as it is not based on exit / opinion poll data.

 The full guidelines and appendix can be found here.

Further advice is availabe from Ric Bailey or Matthew Eltringham in Editorial Policy.

If your query is urgent please text Ric or Matthew - numbers are available, including out of normal hours, via Editorial Policy on 02-80819 or 0208 008 1819.

Peterborough By-Election

Ballot boxWe are in the election period for the by-election in Peterborough, which will be held on Thursday 6 June.

There are fifteen candidates standing in this by-election. Do not hesitate to contact Ric Bailey for guidance on any content you may be planning.

The Election Guidelines for Westminster contituency voting my be found here.

Recall Petition in Brecon and Radnorshire

Parliament.jpgA Recall Petition opens in the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency on Thursday 9 May closing at 5pm on Thursday 20 June (i.e. a six weeks period).

This is the third such petition since the relevant legislation was introduced in 2015 - and there are particular legal and editorial aspects which need to be borne in mind. The legal advice is as follows:

There are automatic reporting restrictions in relation to recall petitions. They state that until the end of the last day of the signing period of the petition we must not publish / broadcast:

  • any statement relating to whether any person has signed the petition where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by that person; or
  • any forecast as to the result of the petition which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.

If you are planning coverage of the petition, please pay close attention to this legal restriction, especially with regard to interviews, phone-ins, vox pops etc., as well as any filming at the six signing stations in the constituency - and contact the Duty Lawyer or Ric Bailey for more detailed advice.

The Recall Petition may also give rise to impartiality questions with regard to ensuring appropriate levels of prominence during the six weeks period. If in doubt, contact Ric Bailey for further advice.

Reporting IS


Pile of Editorial Guidelines

When talking about IS, Editorial Policy advice is that the term Islamic State should be qualified eg “Islamic State group” or “so called Islamic State”, or “self-style Islamic State”, or “Islamic State fighter, militants, extremists” etc. and then as IS in the rest of the bulletin/body of text. Islamist should be used as the adjective to describe extremism linked to groups like this and not Islamic or Islam. We do not use the name Da'esh for IS but we explain it when others use it.

Guidelines on language around terrorism can be found in Sections 11.4.5 and 11.4.6 of the Editorial Guidelines. Specific Guidance can be found here.

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