Impartiality Complaint Against Jeremy Vine Upheld

Broadcaster said he was responding to abuse on the One Facebook group

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Some of Jeremy Vine’s Twitter activity has been deemed inconsistent with the BBC’s editorial standards following a complaint by one of the administrators of the One Chiswick Facebook group.

The complaint was made to the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) which monitors the activity of BBC employees in their personal use of social media to ensure they are adhering to the corporation’s editorial guidelines.

The complainant had alleged that Mr Vine had breached the requirement to be impartial in his posts about his cycling activity particularly with reference to traffic restrictions imposed in the Chiswick area over the last few years and Cycleway 9. They alleged that his Twitter activity represented “a campaign of abuse” against a legitimate local campaigning group.

Mr Vine’s had been responding to posts made on the One Chiswick group described by the ECU as ‘wishing him harm and describing him in opprobrious terms’ and the unit endorsed his right to do this saying his responses were not themselves abusive.

However, the ECU concluded, “In relation to impartiality, the Guidance makes clear that the BBC’s standards should be observed in personal social media activity, as well as on air, by those who work in journalism and factual programming, and the topical content of Mr Vine’s programme on Radio 2 brings him within that category. The introduction of an LTN was a source of sharp controversy in Chiswick at the time in question, (mirroring controversies in other localities where LTNs have been introduced), and was the kind of topic to which considerations of due impartiality applied for the BBC. To the extent that Mr Vine’s twitter activity since the relevant Guidance came into effect appeared to endorse one viewpoint on that topic and controvert another, it was inconsistent with the BBC’s editorial standards as they applied to him, and this aspect of the case was upheld.”

The report goes on to say the guidelines are not breached by Mr Vine being an enthusiastic proponent for cycling or highlighting its potential benefits.

The ECU reported its finding to the management of BBC Content and it was discussed with Mr Vine. It is understood no further action will be taken.

Jeremy Vine has indicated on Twitter that he will continue to post on social media in favour of LTNs and other measures such as Cycleway 9 saying, "The judgement is about comments I have made about LTNs. I understand that I am still allowed to praise cycle lanes which are different. I can certainly praise the cycle lane which runs down the end of my street.

"I'm happy to accept that I should not praise LTNs that I haven't used myself. This is helpful guidance for me."

The One Chiswick group issued a statement saying, "One Chiswick (Chiswick Residents and Businesses against Streetspace Changes) Facebook Group was set up to fight for safer streets for all and to bring back what is best about Chiswick. It is not and has never been anti-cycling.

"Since 2020 it has provided a voice to residents and businesses who wish to either oppose or critique the changes that have been made and propose alternatives on matters that affect their day to day lives and that have been imposed against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of residents. People deserve the right to free speech.

"Accordingly, OneChiswick does not endorse any abusive comments on its Facebook group, nor any attacks on cyclists."

It says that initial posts made on the group, which is private, are screened, and, if any inappropriate posts are made in response, they try to remove them as quickly as possible once they are drawn to the attention of the volunteer adminstrators. The group claims that abusive posts about him and cyclists widely shared by Jeremy Vine on social media were removed quickly once reported but were copied and shared by 'certain parties'.

The statement continues, "In re-posting them now, their intent appears to be to misrepresent OneChiswick as an abusive organisation, some going so far as to describe the Group as posting 'constant abuse'. This is simply not true. Some of their posts also appear to have come from other social media platforms unrelated to OneChiswick, which is further misrepresentation. In short there appears to be a coordinated attempt to discredit OneChiswick by misrepresenting the Facebook Group."

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September 4, 2022


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