A father who confronted Boris Johnson to complain about the state of the NHS has defended the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg after she faced criticism for pointing out he is a Labour activist.
Omar Salem said Kuenssberg was doing her job “without fear or favour” after a Twitter storm in which she was condemned for potentially opening him up to abuse online over the incident.
After Salem took the Prime Minister to task during a visit to a children’s ward at Whipps Cross University Hospital, where his seven-day-old daughter is being treated, Kuenssberg told her followers he was a Labour activist, before linking to one of his posts about the incident.
It prompted fury from many social media users, with some suggesting it could “direct harassment” at Salem, and causing #SackLauraKuenssberg to begin trending online.
Salem tweeted today: “Laura Kuenssberg is doing her job without fear or favour, which is a vital part of democracy. I don’t think ‘Labour activist cares about NHS’ is a huge scoop though…”
The BBC was forced to release a statement defending Kuenssberg last night, saying any claim she had maliciously shared Salem’s tweet was “absurd”.
The corporation said: “Laura is a journalist who uses social media as part of her job.
“Like many others, Laura quote-tweeted a thread by Omar Salem, who had written himself about his encounter with the PM on social media and describes himself as a Labour activist.
“Any suggestions there was malicious intent behind her tweets are absurd.”
The tweet of Salem’s which Kuenssberg shared read: “Boris Johnson dropped into Whipps Cross Hospital for a press opportunity – so I gave him a piece of my mind about how he is running the NHS based on the experience with my 7-day-old daughter, who was neglected for hours last night.”
ITV political correspondent Paul Brand also shared the tweet.
During the visit, Salem told Johnson: “There are not enough people on this ward, there are not enough doctors, there’s not enough nurses, it’s not well organised enough.
“The NHS has been destroyed… and now you come here for a press opportunity.”
Johnson replied: “There’s no press here,” but Salem gestured to cameras filming the confrontation, and said: “What do you mean there’s no press here, who are these people?”
Picture: BBC News