BBC bosses have found that an episode of The Papers on its BBC News channel on October 23 failed to meet its editorial standards on impartiality.
Presented by Martine Croxall, the programme was aired at 10.30pm, just 90 minutes after it was announced that former PM Boris Johnson had pulled out of the race to be re-elected as Tory leader following the resignation of Liz Truss.
Bosses found the programme contained ‘insufficient counter and challenge to some of the opinions expressed by guests’ and ‘reactions and remarks’ which could lead a viewer to infer an editorial stance on the Conservative Leadership contest.
Ms Croxall said at the beginning of the programme: ‘Can we even show you the front pages just yet, have they arrived? No they haven’t arrived.
‘It’s all a little bit, you know, lastminute.com isn’t it? Because all the front pages were probably out of date by the time we received them.’
She then added: ‘Well this is all very exciting, isn’t it?’ adding: ‘Am I allowed to be this gleeful? Well I am.’
BBC News presenter Martine Croxall presenting the Newspaper Review on BBC News channel and of Boris Johnson’s decision not to run, saying with a big smile: ‘Am I allowed to be this gleeful? Well I am’
The BBC said in a statement: ‘In this programme several remarks and reactions from the presenter caused a significant risk that the audience could believe opinions were being expressed on the Conservative leadership contest.
‘In addition, there was insufficient counter and challenge to some of the opinions expressed by guests on the programme.
‘Taken together, this meant that this edition of The Papers did not meet our editorial standards, as it gave the audience the opportunity to infer an editorial position on the part of the BBC.
‘This does not accord with the BBC’s commitment to editorial impartiality.’
At the time the 53-year-old journalist’s action sparked a furious backlash, with outraged viewers demanding action from regulator Ofcom – or that she is sacked by the BBC.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at Gatwick Airport in London, as he announced he would not stand for the Tory leadership
Who is Martine Croxall?
Martine has been a journalist with the BBC for almost 30 years.
She first joined BBC Radio Leicester in 1993 before moving to BBC’s London base to join its regional team covering the south-east.
But since May 2021, she has been a presenter on the BBC News Channel and BBC World News often appearing on air between Thursday and Sunday.
In 2015 she was praised for her coverage of the terror attack in Paris.
The journalist was also championed in April, 2021, when she tearfully broke the news of Prince Philip’s death.
A technical gaffe in January 2020 saw Ms Croxall going viral when a rogue camera panned past her during a live broadcast.
Away from the news, as Ms Croxall was crowned Celebrity Mastermind in March, storming to victory against the likes of The Vivienne from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, presenter Maria McErlane and DJ, Ace.
Ms Croxall never commented on specifically what she was ‘gleeful’ about during the show.
She was suspended from live programming following the incident, and it is currently unclear when she will return.
The episode also saw Ms Croxall suggest that her comments could have breached BBC guidelines.
Responding to a guest’s joke aimed at Mr Johnson, she said: ‘I shouldn’t probably (laugh). I’m probably breaking some terrible due impartiality rule by giggling.’
Some viewers, including several Tory MPs, reacting to a clip on social media, complained it displayed bias.
On that Sunday, Mr Johnson claimed he had the nominations needed to make it on to the ballot paper but admitted he could not unite his warring party.
The former prime minister said there was a ‘very good chance’ he could have been back in No 10 by the end of the week if he had stood.
However, his efforts to ‘reach out’ to his rivals, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, to work together had not been successful so he was dropping out.
The news broke late into the evening leading to a scramble at newspapers across the UK to rethink their planned edition.
The BBC issued a statement the morning after the segment aired saying it was ‘urgently reviewing’ the programme.
Many online criticised the newsreader after watching the segment, claiming her reporting was not impartial.
It comes after many Conservatives have claimed in recent months that the BBC is not unbiased and has gone ‘woke’ – though critics say this is not the case and the BBC are simply holding the government to account for their actions.
The corporation and other media outlets were particularly criticised for their reporting during the Partygate scandal which ultimately helped topple Boris Johnson as PM.
It was claimed by Conservatives that coverage was unfair. Later, it was confirmed that both Boris Johnson and then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak broke lockdown rules and were fined by police.
It is not the first time Ms Croxall has made the headlines due to an on-air gaffe: in January 2020 she was involved in a blunder which quickly saw her go viral online.
As she started to read the top stories of the day, the camera panned straight past her to the news desk, in a humiliating gaffe.
‘Hello everybody, this is Afternoon Live,’ the presenter began, before she disappeared as the camera zipped straight past her.
‘I’ve lost you,’ she said. ‘I shall make my way back to the desk.
‘I think that’s the safest thing to do. Do excuse me, I shall tell you all about our story in just one second.’
The BBC has been contacted for comment.