April 24, 2005

BBC admits to sending hecklers to heckle Conservative leader

Someone at the BBC, in their infinite wisdom, has come forward and admitted that they sent hecklers to heckle UK Conservative party leader Michael Howard at a campaign appearance.

Apparently, the protestors were working for the BBC and in the process of doing a documentary, The History of Heckling, for BBC 3.

The Tories have made an official protest after the hecklers, who were given the microphones by producers, were caught at a party event in the North West last week. Guy Black, the party's head of communications, wrote in a letter to Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of news, that the hecklers began shouting slogans that were "distracting and clearly hostile to the Conservative Party".

These included "Michael Howard is a liar", "You can't trust the Tories" and "You can only trust Tony Blair".

Mr Black's strongly-worded letter accused the BBC of staging the event "to generate a false news story and dramatise coverage. . . intended to embarrass or ridicule the leader of the Conservative Party". The letter said that BBC staff were guilty of "serious misconduct". At least one of the hecklers was seen again at a Tory event in the North East, Mr Black added.

Last night, the BBC claimed that the exercise was part of a "completely legitimate programme about the history and art of political heckling" and said that other parties' meetings were being "observed". However, The Telegraph has established that none of Tony Blair's meetings was infiltrated or disrupted in similar fashion.

The BBC defended their position, even though the Conservative party has demanded a formal apology from the Beeb.
Last night a BBC spokesman said: "This is a completely legitimate programme about the history and art of political heckling. The programme observes hecklers at other parties' campaign meetings and not just the Conservatives. The hecklers were not under the direction of the BBC and their activities did not disrupt the meeting in any way. The incident at the Michael Howard meeting only plays a small part in the overall programme. However, we will be investigating the complaint very fully and will be replying in due course."
I would lay even money that Michael Moore will try similar tactics here in the US. After all, it's OK for liberals in the media to attack conservatives during campaigns -- it's only "evil" when it happens the other way around...right?

The UK general election is Thursday, May 5. The polls are open from 7A to 10P on that day across the UK.

(More coverage from Michelle Malkin & others)

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