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November 29, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:40am

BBC condemns Conservative Facebook advert using footage of its journalists

By Charlotte Tobitt

The BBC has demanded the Conservatives take down a “completely unacceptable” Facebook advert using clips from its journalists, claiming it could “damage perceptions of our impartiality”.

But the party has refused, defending its use of contemporary news footage and insisting “viewers can judge for themselves”.

The 15-second advert uses video and audio clips of BBC journalists reporting on defeats in the House of Commons that have further delayed Brexit since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

It begins with a clip of BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg (pictured) saying: “Pointless delay to Brexit,” before News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards is seen saying: “Another Brexit delay.”

Voiceover footage then features Kuenssberg proclaiming there has been “real drama there in the House of Commons tonight” and political correspondent Jonathan Blake describing “a result which means Parliament now holds the Prime Minister prisoner”.

The advert, which also shows former Commons speaker John Bercow and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, ends with the strapline: “Stop the chaos in Parliament. Get Brexit done.”

BBC News lawyers yesterday contacted Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly asking for the ad to be removed, but it remains online.

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A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re aware of Conservative Party Facebook adverts using edited BBC content.

“This is a completely unacceptable use of BBC content which distorts our output and which could damage perceptions of our impartiality. We are asking the Conservatives to remove these adverts.”

The advert was posted by the official Conservative Facebook page yesterday and sponsored so it reaches more people in their news feeds, according to Facebook’s ad library which lists all political ads.

It has been seen by at least 125,000 people and cost up to £2,500 so far to promote, mostly to 35 to 54-year-olds.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “This video uses contemporary news footage to remind voters of the deadlock and delay of the last three years caused by a broken Parliament that did everything it could to block Brexit.

“Viewers can judge for themselves, but it is clear the footage was not edited in a manner that misleads or changes the reporting.

“The only way to get Brexit done and avoid spending 2020 consumed by two more referendums – which would be accompanied by similar news reporting – is to vote for Boris Johnson on 12 December.”

Laura Kuenssberg in a Conservative Party Facebook advert about which the BBC has complained.

Picture: BBC

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