‘She crossed a line’ BBC’s Andrew Marr opens up over Emily Maitlis Cummings row

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In a rare appearance on ITV Good Morning Britain, BBC’s Andrew Marr told Piers Morgan the people behind the decision to find Emily Maitlis in violation of BBC’s impartiality rules are very experienced. Asked whether he believed the Newsnight host had “crossed a line”, Mr Marr said: “Every single Sunday I sit down with my editor and go through every phrase, every adjective, every syllable that I say.

“And he asks me ‘is that absolutely fair?’ or ‘can you really justify that to everybody watching?’

“Emily is one of the great broadcasters of her generation, a really great broadcaster.

“But the BBC decided she crossed the line and the people taking that decision are very, very experienced.

“Beyond that, I’m not going to wade in. It’s been a media story that’s gone on for too long.”

The Newsnight presenter was found to have violated the BBC’s impartiality guidelines following her monologue on Dominic Cummings last week.

In her introduction to last Tuesday’s show, Maitlis said Mr Cummings had “broken the rules” when he travelled from London to Durham during lockdown and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot”.

The BBC said the monologue “did not meet our standards of due impartiality”.

Maitlis returned to Newsnight on Monday, but did not mention the row during a show focusing on the protests that have broken out across the US in response to the death of an unarmed black man.

George Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee on his neck for several minutes.

Following the controversy over Mr Cummings, Maitlis did not appear as scheduled on an episode of Newsnight, saying she asked for the evening off.

The presenter, widely lauded for her interview with the Duke of York last year, said she has been “overwhelmed” by support from viewers after her monologue on Mr Cummings.

The 49-year-old broadcaster tweeted: “Been overwhelmed by all the kindness, messages – and support on here – and I’ve probably missed much of it.

“A big thank you from us all at Newsnight.”

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MPs have aired their frustrations over the controversial lockdown trip made by the Prime Minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings.

Following the Whitsun recess, Tuesday was the first time MPs could speak in the Commons about Mr Cummings’ trip from London to Durham, which was revealed in the press last month.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called for Mr Cummings to be shown the door.

He said: “The Prime Minister has destroyed his own ‘stay home and save lives’ message.”

Mr Blackford added that Mr Cummings has “undermined efforts” to reduce the spread of coronavirus and that “people are breaking the rules as a result”.

Tory MP Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), a former Government whip, asked if the Government’s Covid-19 strategy has been damaged by the Cummings affair.

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