Nick Robinson: BBC Made a ‘Terrible Mistake’ over Immigration Debate

Alice Philipson, Telegraph (London), January 5, 2014

Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, has criticised the corporation for making a “terrible mistake” over its coverage of immigration, admitting it censored concerns amid fear they could trigger racism.

Robinson said BBC figures in charge during the late 1990s and early 2000s believed a “warts-and-all” debate over immigration would “unleash some terrible side of the British public”.

He told The Sunday Times (£): “They feared having a conversation about immigration, they feared the consequence.”

One-sided reports meant viewer’s concerns about immigration lowering wages and threatening jobs were not addressed by the broadcaster.

Robinson, whose new documentary The Truth About Immigration is due to air on Tuesday, said the BBC’s audience felt it had “decided these are not acceptable views. And that was a terrible mistake.”

However, he said he thought the BBC was “not getting it right” on immigration.

It comes months after an official review found the BBC did not accurately reflect the public’s growing concern about immigration because of a “deep liberal bias”.

In July a report, commissioned by the BBC Trust, found the broadcaster had been “slow” to catch up with public opinion on immigration and leaving the European Union.

Stuart Prebble, a former ITV television executive, said the BBC had probably been too swayed by the views of politicians, who were also reluctant to discuss immigration for fear of causing offence.

Robinson’s documentary will include new data showing the scale of concern over immigration among the British public.

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