Fury at BBC as viewers have ‘lost faith’ over its refusal to call Hamas ‘terrori

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick warned that many Jewish viewers have now lost faith in its news coverage.

Mr Jenrick told the Director-General: “I’ve never been so disappointed in the BBC as I have been this past fortnight.

“I worry that the organisation has lost the confidence of many people and in particular the British Jewish community.

“That loss of confidence began with the BBC’s refusal to call Hamas terrorists. Will you reconsider that, and change your ­editorial policy?”

But Mr Davie defended the Corporation’s coverage and told the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs he is not planning to make changes.

The BBC has faced a backlash of its coverage of the aftermath of the October 7 terror attack for refusing to label Hamas as terrorists. It also faced criticism after a reporter appeared to blame Israel for a ­contested rocket strike on a hospital in Gaza.

READ MORE: Tory MPs should ask BBC chief Tim Davie these 10 questions in crunch meeting

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the Commons on Monday that British intelligence services believe it is likely the rocket came from within Gaza.

Mr Davie was told he shared ­“responsibility” for the anti-Semitism “Jews woke up to” after the ­reporting of the hospital strike.

He was challenged on the sources the BBC is using to assess events and one MP said allegations of bias against Israel at the broadcasters are “not new” with concerns raised 20 years ago about its approach.

Mr Davie is the first BBC Director-General to address the committee in 100 years and ministers attended alongside backbenchers.

One Tory source said the “moral decline of the BBC is concerning” while another said his performance had been “unconvincing”.

Conservative Jonathan Gullis, who wants an independent inquiry into the coverage, said MPs “respected” Mr Davie for turning up to answer their questions but said his standing did not improve as a result of the session. “In fact it has got worse,” he added. “It just wound more people up and not just vocal critics of the BBC.

“It was just bizarre. Refusing to call Hamas terrorists is a very strange hill to die on. It is completely tone deaf.”

Senior Tory Sir Michael Fabricant said Mr Davie “tried to” address concerns about the coverage of the war.

“I am not sure he succeeded,” Sir Michael added. “He would make a good senior civil servant. ‘Yes minister, but…’”’

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Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson criticised Mr Davie’s response to MPs’ questioning. He said: “He obviously doesn’t spend much time watching the BBC.” In the days following the attack, a group of the UK’s most senior lawyers, accused the BBC of siding with Hamas by refusing to call it a terror group and talking about it in “more sympathetic terms.”

Lord Wolfson KC, Lord Pannick KC, Lord Grabiner KC and Jeremy Brier KC, wrote to broadcasting regulator Ofcom calling for it to investigate. On Friday, Mr Davie met the Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl and its chief executive Michael Wegier to discuss their ­“outrage” at Hamas being described as militants instead of terrorists.

The Jewish group said the BBC had confirmed it is no longer the corporation’s practice to call Hamas militants, but instead is describing the group as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the UK Government and others, or simply as Hamas.

Mr Davie’s appearance before the 1922 Committee was arranged before the October 7 terror attack on Israel. It is unusual for non-political speakers to address the body of Tory MPs.

But Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey and Microsoft ­co-founder Bill Gates have both made appearances.

Mr Davie is said to have opened the private meeting by saying he could not tell MPs of someone who is “more ­patriotic” and cares more about the country than him.

He insisted the BBC’s priority is ­serving licence fee payers and highlighted the importance of impartiality. The Director-General also insisted the BBC is now a better run place and it is more efficient after 2,000 people have left, according to sources in the room.

One MP warned him the broadcaster’s approach to migration coverage is ­making it “more difficult” to tackle the small boats crisis.

Mr Davie told the meeting the BBC is carrying out a review into how it reports on migration.

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