BBC Complaints ditches consistency

Last month we documented a BBC News website report which promoted claims concerning ‘international law’ made by a person portrayed as “the Palestinian ambassador to the UK”, rather than the head of the Palestinian mission to the UK:


CAMERA UK submitted a complaint to the BBC on that issue, pointing out that the definition of ambassador is “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country” and that – as the BBC Academy’s style guide rightly says – there is no Palestinian state at this time and the UK does not currently recognise one. We reminded the BBC that it has previously acknowledged those points.

On October 6th we were informed that it would take the BBC more time to address our complaint. On October 11th we received the following response:

“Thank you for getting in touch about our article Palestinian anger at possible UK Jerusalem embassy move.

Dr Husam Zomlot is called ambassador to the UK by the Palestinians.  He technically represents the PLO, seen as the sole legitimate international representative of the Palestinian people.

In the article he is represented as ambassador of a people and not a state, using a small “a” and not giving him a formal title.  The term “ambassador” can be used to refer to an envoy or representative.

He is widely referred to as the Palestinian ambassador by other mainstream media organisations, including Reuters and the Guardian.

He is also described in the same ways by respected organisations such as Chatham House:

Interestingly, in 2018 the BBC did correct very similar ‘small “a”’ wording after it had inaccurately described Husam Zomlot as “the Palestinian ambassador to Washington”:


In early 2020 the BBC responded as follows to a complaint regarding the presentation of Zomlot as “the Palestinian ambassador to the UK” and “the Palestinian ambassador to London” in BBC radio programmes:

“We have spoken with senior staff about your concerns. We acknowledge the point that Husam Zomlot is not strictly speaking an ambassador, although the phrase is in common parlance in the media. We will remind editors of his actual title, but it is clear from our wider reporting that the UK does not recognise Palestine as a state.”


Nothing has changed since then except, apparently, the BBC’s own approach to this matter. That – together with the lack of consistency – is in itself worthy of note.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Grimey

    The Grauniad is anything but “mainstream media”. It is an antisemitic left-wing rag with a tiny circulation dedicated to the destruction of Israel – along with The Indy and the other rags in its stable.

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