More bizarre terror commentary from the BBC’s John Simpson

The May 12th edition of BBC One’s “Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg” included an interview with the UK Foreign Secretary.

During that interview, Lord Cameron raised the topic of the BBC’s long-standing refusal to describe Hamas as terrorists. [emphasis in italics in the original]

Cameron: “When you see what Hamas are prepared to do, you just realise the terrible, dreadful, inhuman people, frankly, that we are dealing with. And maybe it’s a moment actually for the BBC to ask itself again ‘should we describe these people as terrorists?’. They are terrorists. If you kidnap grandmothers, you kidnap babies, you rape people, you shoot children in front of their parents… what more do they need to do for the BBC to say ‘look these are terrorists’? They really are.”

As reported by the Telegraph and others, in an edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme aired the following day, the presenter Nick Robinson demonstrated that the BBC had not taken David Cameron’s advice.

“Is there a sense that Benjamin Netanyahu is walking a political tightrope, proceeding with military action against what he says are the remaining targets of the group he calls terrorists, Hamas?” he [Robinson] asked Jo Floto, the BBC’s Middle East bureau editor.’ [emphasis added]

The Telegraph also reported a response from the BBC:

“A BBC spokesman said: “No one consuming BBC News can be left unaware of the horrific nature of Hamas’s acts.

“We’ve made our long-standing position on this matter very clear. We use the word ‘terrorist’ when it is attributed to others, such as the UK Government.””

That report by the Telegraph prompted reaction on social media from the BBC’s John Simpson:

Simpson’s distortion of a newspaper headline into a supposed “demand” which was never made by David Cameron, his portrayal of British law as a “political line” and his promotion of something approaching a conspiracy theory concerning “a particular school of thought in the Conservative Party” would not have come as much of a surprise to anyone who remembers the article he penned last October on the topic of widespread criticism of the BBC’s refusal to describe Hamas as a terrorist organisation:

“Terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally. It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

We regularly point out that the British and other governments have condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation, but that’s their business. We also run interviews with guests and quote contributors who describe Hamas as terrorists.

The key point is that we don’t say it in our voice. Our business is to present our audiences with the facts, and let them make up their own minds.” [emphasis added]


“The facts” are that Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation under UK law and membership of and expressing support for it (including by means of clothing or flags) is an illegal act, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Members of the BBC’s audience – including those participating in demonstrations – would of course be best served by their publicly funded national broadcaster were they provided with that information rather than tepid descriptions such as “gunmen” or “militants”. Despite what John Simpson may believe, the members of the British public do not need to “make up their own minds” as to whether Hamas is a terrorist organisation or not, just as they do not need to decide whether or not theft or speeding is a crime in their country.

Not unrelatedly, just days earlier we also learned via a BBC spokesman that the corporation thinks that “a widespread interpretation” of a court ruling is legitimate broadcast material even though that interpretation is wrong:


Of course what makes the remarks from Simpson and anonymous BBC spokesmen even more galling is the fact that for years BBC journalists have employed double standards, showing time and time again that they are prepared to ignore the corporation’s editorial guidelines when terror strikes closer to home. Just days ago, for example, in appropriate and unattributed language, BBC audiences were told about British campaigners who:

“…plan to visit the sites of terror attacks including the 7/7 Memorial in London, before arriving in London on 22 May, the seventh anniversary of the Manchester Arena terror attack.”

As long as David Cameron’s advice continues to not only fall on deaf ears at the BBC but also to prompt the type of bizarre comment displayed by John Simpson, the corporation’s credibility as an ‘impartial’ producer of “news you can trust” will further erode.

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  1. says: Alexander Menashe

    Simpson’s argument might hold some water if the BBC never used the term “terrorist” but they do in other contexts. I’m astonished no-one asked him about this when he was been rolled out to defend the BBC.

    Far from being objective in refusing to ascribe Hamas as terrorists, they are obfuscating the nature of the organisation and misleading their audience.

  2. says: Michael Zeffertt

    In common with so many other BBC reporters, Simpson is a self-righteous virtue signalling prig who has passed his sell by date. These people are oblivious to the fact that millions in this country are no longer listening to them.

  3. I myself as License fee payer absolutely deplore the way in which the BBC and staff ie. Simpson and Co are reporting the conflict in Israel and Gaza they do not even try to hide their Bias , they are so Pro Hamas it disgusts me if I could I would stop paying for the TV licence today in protest but they would have me sent to jail pronto , what I would like is for a mass boycott of the TV licence and maybe then they will listen to the silent majority whom support Israel and her right to exist .

  4. says: Neil C

    Simpson should be prosecuted for distorting the facts of the interview and his own bigoted support of a proscribed terrorist organisation. He is a disgrace to the so called profession of journalism. I hereby put an evil curse on this pathetic example of a human being recommending he does not take a ride in a helicopter #defundthebbc

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