Corrections and Clarifications
The BBC's responses to editorial, technical and corporate issues.
This page includes apologies, significant corrections, statements and responses. It does not include routine corrections to news stories, minor on-air apologies and schedule changes.
Corrections and clarifications are published in the order that they were issued.
BBC News at One
BBC One and BBC News channel, Monday 22 March 2021
In a report on a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest a demonstrator said, "if I was to stand outside there with a sign, I could get up to 10 years in prison.”
In fact, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which applies to England and Wales, proposes a maximum sentence of 10 years for “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance” or for causing damage to statues or memorials.
Depending on the circumstances, a demonstrator might be fined: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56400751
BBC Radio 4, Friday 8 January 2021
We implied that 1,162 people had died from coronavirus in a single day in the UK, the second highest number since the pandemic began.
To be clear, the deaths would not have occurred on a single day but within 28 days of a positive test.
BBC One, Tuesday 18 May 2021
In an item about holiday and restaurant bookings and cancellations in the South West we included testimony from a tourist who claimed that his booking at the Mussel Box at Padstow had been cancelled without warning. In fact the customer had been sent an email by the restaurant alerting him to the cancellation.
We failed to bring that allegation to the attention of the owner of the restaurant who would have made the situation clear, and we apologise for that.
BBC Sounds, Wednesday 27 January 2021
We reported that students in England pay university fees of up to £9,250 a year. One student suggested the Open University only “charges something around £3,000.” We should have explained that this is the figure for part-time study. It currently costs £6,336 for a full-time OU course.
News at Six
BBC One and BBC News channel, Wednesday 28 April 2021
In a report about the Covid-19 vaccination rollout we included comments from Professor Anthony Harnden, the Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, who had given evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee and said: "If we all go completely wild and just ignore everything that we have learnt over this past year in terms of social restrictions then there will be another wave and that wave will be much larger."
Professor Harnden clarified these remarks later in his evidence to make clear he was not comparing the second wave with a third wave, but saying that the modelling shows the size of the third wave varies depending on the public’s behaviour as social restrictions ease.
BBC Radio 4, Wednesday 24 March 2021
In an item about proposed Government changes to immigration rules we interviewed a Syrian teacher and filmmaker now living in the UK, Hassan Akkad. We should have made clear Mr Akkad is a member of the Labour Party as this might have helped the audience evaluate his contribution, without casting into doubt his personal knowledge of the issue.
Sir James Dyson apology - Various outlets, Wednesday 21 April 2021
We accept that Sir James Dyson is not a prominent Conservative supporter as was stated in some of our coverage of his text messages with the Prime Minister. The James Dyson Foundation made a charitable gift to support the Wiltshire Engineering Festival for school children. We accept that this does not signal affiliation to any political party and we would like to put the record straight. Sir James also raised concerns about the accuracy of other aspects of our reporting. We wish to make clear that Sir James contacted Number 10 in response to the Prime Minister’s direct request to him for assistance in relation to the urgent need for ventilators and incurred costs of £20m which his company voluntarily absorbed in trying to assist in the national emergency. His text messages to the Prime Minister were also later sent to officials. We are sorry that these facts were not always reflected in our coverage, and we apologise for not doing so.
bbc.co.uk, March-April 2021
Some business articles (The woman building HSBC's 3,000 roaming banker army; Philippines' fried chicken king eyes global empire; Trader gets painted stones instead of $36m of copper) were found to contain unattributed material from other news websites and have been removed.
BBC News, BBC World News and BBC World Service, Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 December 2020
In exchanges about the Pakistani elections of July 2018 we referred to a report by EU election monitors. We said that while the monitors reported some grave concerns about abuses in specific places involving different parties “the final and ultimate conclusion was that they believed the result was credible.”
We should have made clear that we were quoting comments made by the Chief Observer of the EU Monitors Michael Gahler at a press conference to launch a preliminary statement on the election in July 2018 and not the report itself. He said that “overall the election results are credible.”
Mr Gahler also expressed concerns about the election process in Pakistan: “Our overall assessment of the election process is that it is not as good as in 2013… Candidates with large political appeal and financial means, the so-called ‘electables’ were reported to often dominate the campaign. Uneven rules on campaign spending further undermined candidates’ equal opportunity.”
The final report by the EU Monitors, published in October 2018, described voting as “well-conducted and transparent in most of the 446 polling stations observed” but said “the count, transmission and tabulation of results lacked transparency, leaving room for allegations of electoral malpractices.” It made a range of recommendations regarding future elections in Pakistan.
BBC Radio 4, Friday 9 April 2021
In an interview we suggested “there are former Labour ministers and former Labour Prime Ministers who are on the phone, texting their successors all the time on behalf of companies that they have an interest in."
Gordon Brown assures us he has never texted, phoned or written to any government department representing any private company, or lobbied on behalf of any commercial interest.
We are happy to make this clear and apologise for any impression to the contrary.
BBC One Scotland, Friday 23 April 2021
We incorrectly represented the Scottish Conservatives’ position on the Scottish Child Payment in a story about child poverty. We would like to correct that and make it clear that the Conservatives would complete the rollout of the Scottish Child Payment and increase payments to £20 a week by the end of the Parliament. We apologise for the mistake and any confusion caused by this.
BBC News at Six
BBC One and BBC News, Friday 23 April 2021
In a report on the wrongful conviction of 39 postmasters for false accounting and theft we said we had contacted the former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells “a number of times over recent weeks” but she hadn't responded to questions.
In fact, we were unaware of an email that laid out her response to the judgment.
It said: "I was deeply saddened by the sub-postmasters' accounts heard during the Court of Appeal proceedings. I am truly sorry for the suffering caused to them as a result of the convictions which the Court of Appeal has today overturned. I fully support and am committed to co-operating with the ongoing Government Inquiry, as I did with last year's Select Committee Inquiry. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further while the Inquiry is ongoing."
Various outlets, Wednesday 21 April 2021
In our coverage of texts he had sent to the Prime Minister we referred in various outlets to Sir James Dyson as a prominent Conservative supporter or said he backed the Conservatives.
Sir James says this is factually incorrect.
We are happy to set the record straight.
BBC Two, Monday 1 March 2021
The programme discussed a tweet by Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, congratulating Anas Sarwar on being ‘the first ever ethnic minority leader of any political party anywhere in the UK’.
As there have been a number of Jewish leaders of British political parties, it sought to explore why some official monitoring does not include Jews as an ethnic rather than a religious minority. To be clear, Jews are an ethnic minority recognised in law.
BBC Radio 2, Tuesday 23 March 2021
During an item on the Alex Salmond inquiry, it was stated that a committee of MSPs found that Nicola Sturgeon “had breached the ministerial code”. In fact, the Cross-Party Committee did not rule on any breach of conduct, but instead found that Ms Sturgeon had “misled Parliament”. The Hamilton Report ruled she had not breached the ministerial code.
BBC Radio 4, Saturday 20 March 2021
During an item on the right to protest, a listener’s comment was included on the disruption caused by Extinction Rebellion protests. It claimed that “people died stuck in ambulances” and was left unchallenged. We accept this claim was unfounded and not an accurate statement to relay during the discussion.
Mayday: The Canister on the Bed
BBC Radio 4, Friday 20 November 2020
In a report on a chemical weapons investigation by the OPCW (Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons) in Douma, Syria, we said a whistleblower believed the attack had been staged. This was based on our interpretation of research and testimony from sources at the time of broadcast.
Since then, ‘Alex’ has told the BBC he challenged how the OPCW reached its conclusions because of his concerns over its methods and procedures. He says he has called for an open and transparent process to address these issues, but does not prejudge the outcome of any such ‘proper, independent and impartial investigation.’
BBC Radio 4, Wednesday 31 March 2021
In a reference to the introduction by some councils of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) we said that ‘you cannot use your car’.
While LTNs do restrict access to stop through traffic, vehicles can still be used, though some journeys will be less direct and may take longer.
5 Live Drive
BBC Radio 5 Live, Monday 21 December 2020
During an item about Covid-19 admissions in Northern Ireland, we said hospitals are “admitting four to five hundred Covid patients a day,” and when challenged we said this was correct because it was the figure given by the Northern Ireland Health Minister to a Covid-19 committee at Stormont.
In fact the challenge was correct. The Minister, Robin Swann, had told the committee that there were between 400 and 500 Covid patients being treated at that time.
News at Six
BBC One and BBC News Channel, Friday 26 February 2021
We reported Alex Salmond had said Nicola Sturgeon had broken the ministerial code and that he thought she should resign in his evidence to a Scottish Parliament Inquiry.
In fact Mr Salmond did not say that the First Minister should resign; he told the Inquiry “I've got no doubt that Nicola has broken the ministerial code but it’s not for me to suggest what the consequences should be”.
World at One
BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 2 February 2021
We said Israel had vaccinated 5 million people with the Pfizer jab and that a million of these had had two doses.
In fact, more than 5 million doses of vaccine had been given to Israeli citizens. Over 3 million people had received the first dose of the vaccine at that point and over 2 million the second.
BBC Radio 4, Saturday 6 February 2021
We reported that it was the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. As the Queen acceded the throne in 1952, this was in fact the 69th anniversary.
BBC News Channel, Friday 23 July 2020
We referred to George Floyd’s death as occurring during an encounter with white police officers. The officer who knelt on his neck is white, but two of the other three involved are not.
BBC One, 19 April 2020
We referred to the Black Death, which it’s estimated killed millions of people in medieval times, as a virus. In fact it was a bacterial infection.
BBC News Persian, 19 October 2018
In 2018 BBC News Persian published an article (in Persian) which used an inappropriate word to refer to homosexuality. This word should not have been used and the article has now been corrected. We apologise for the offence caused.
BBC News Channel, 16 January 2021
We suggested that under the Oslo Accords, Palestinian healthcare is ultimately the responsibility of the Israeli government.
Although there is a wider dispute over the issue, the Accords - which Israel signed with the Palestine Liberation Organisation - give the Palestinian Authority oversight of public health under the principles of self-determination.
BBC Radio 4, 13 January 2021
We said proposed reforms to the Mental Health Act in England and Wales would outlaw the practice of detaining people 'for simply having autism or another learning disability.'
We should have said 'autism or a learning disability.'
BBC News online, 25 January 2021
We used the term ‘IRA veteran’ to describe Eamon McCourt’s long involvement in Irish republicanism. We accept that this shorthand formulation could be misinterpreted and it has now been amended for clarity. Mr McCourt is now described as an ‘IRA man’ in our online news report. Related social media posts have also been updated.
We understand the sensitivities around Troubles’ issues and legacies, including in relation to terminology. Much of this can be contested. No offence was intended and we regret any misunderstanding or upset that may have been caused.
BBC Radio 4, 20 January 2021
In a discussion about the impact Donald Trump has had on populist politics a contributor referred to the role played by the Tea Party, ConservativeHome ‘and other similar movements’.
ConservativeHome has been in touch to make clear the company is a media outlet, staffed by journalists who write about the Conservative Party and Conservative politics, that it is not a ‘movement’ and it is not in any way equivalent to or similar to the Tea Party or any ‘other similar movements’.
BBC Radio Ulster, 5 January 2021
During a discussion on 5 January about how different governments have responded to Covid-19 we made an inaccurate estimate of Israel’s population and the number of its citizens who have received a Covid-19 vaccine. For clarity, Israel has a population of around 9 million, not six million as we had suggested. And around one fifth of Israeli citizens have received a Covid-19 vaccine at this stage - which is lower than the one third total we had mentioned.
We note that whilst there has been some dispute about the Israeli government’s responsibility for vaccinating Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, those Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, or who hold Israeli citizenship, are covered by the roll-out of the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. This distinction was not made clear in the brief exchanges between contributors on this issue - all of which took place in the context of other media reports about the speed, extent and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccinations in Israel, relative to elsewhere.
BBC Radio 4, 31 December 2020
A contributor said in response to a question from a listener that people with allergies who carry an Epipen can’t have the Pfizer vaccine.
However the MHRA had revised its guidance on the Pfizer jab which now says: "Anyone with a previous history of allergic reactions to the ingredients of the vaccine should not receive it, but those with any other allergies such as a food allergy can now have the vaccine."
BBC One, 19 June 2020
In this episode contestants were required to buy a Victorian item. A ring bought by the red team was adjudged to have been made in 1951 and was disqualified from the competition. It was subsequently confirmed that the ring did in fact date from 1891, which likely affected the outcome of the contest.
BBC News channel, 14 December 2020
We said a train had nearly hit two cars on a Norfolk level crossing three weeks ago in our introduction to the official findings. We were a year out. It was on 24 November 2019 that the automatic barriers, near New Rackheath, went up by mistake.