Fury over BBC stars’ flag jibes as 17 MPs write to Tim Davie demanding presenters Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt are reprimanded for mocking Union Jack
- BBC insisted it was ‘proud to be British’ after backlash at its news presenters
- Row was provoked on Thursday and involved Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty
- Accused of making fun of Robert Jenrick about the British flag in his office
The BBC insisted last night it was ‘proud to be British’ after a furious backlash at news presenters mocking the Union Jack.
But some of the corporation’s biggest names continued making light of the growing controversy yesterday – despite the two hosts at its centre being ‘spoken to’ by bosses.
It also emerged that 17 MPs had written to director-general Tim Davie calling for BBC Breakfast presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty to be reprimanded for showing disrespect to the national flag.
The BBC has insisted it is ‘proud to be British’ after presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty were accused of mocking the Union Jack
The presenters were interviewing communities secretary Robert Jenrick when the incident took place
In response, Mr Davie said the BBC is ‘proud to be British’ and revealed that Stayt and Miss Munchetty had been ‘spoken to’ and ‘reminded of their responsibilities’.
As corporation bosses tried to pacify angry backbenchers, however, some of its own highly paid stars such as Huw Edwards and Gary Lineker continued to fan the flames with their social media posts.
The row was provoked on Thursday after Stayt and Miss Munchetty were accused of making fun of communities secretary Robert Jenrick about the British flag and a picture of the Queen in his office.
Stayt, 58, mockingly told the Cabinet minister: ‘I think your flag is not up to standard size Government-interview measurements. I think it’s just a little bit small.’
A laughing Miss Munchetty was then heard to comment: ‘They had the picture of the Queen there as well, though’.
The controversy continued later when Miss Munchetty, 46, ‘liked’ insulting tweets about the British flag including a reference to ‘flag sh*****s’ being ‘up in arms’.
She later removed the ‘likes’ and wrote: ‘These do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken.’ It is understood her apology came after concerns were expressed from the very top of the BBC.
News presenter Huw Edwards continued to fan the flames with his social media posts
Mr Edwards posted a picture of himself in front of his native Welsh flag with the words: ‘Flags are now mandatory – very pleased with my new backdrop for @BBCNews at Ten’
MPs wrote to Mr Davie saying they had been ‘inundated with complaints’ from constituents.
They called for Stayt and Miss Munchetty to be ‘reprimanded’ and to ‘apologise for their conduct’. They added that the attitudes on the programme were inappropriate and disrespectful.
In response Mr Davie repeated that the BBC was ‘proud of the UK’ and that it took their complaints seriously.
He included in his reply a response from the editor of BBC Breakfast, Richard Frediani, who said Stayt’s spoke ‘off the cuff’ with words ‘meant as a light-hearted comment’, and ‘no offence or disrespect was intended’.
Mr Frediani added: ‘Naga and Charlie have been spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities, including the BBC’s impartiality and social media guidelines.’
But at the same time BBC stars appeared to mock the row on social media.
News At Ten presenter Edwards posted a picture of himself in front of his native Welsh flag with the words: ‘Flags are now mandatory – very pleased with my new backdrop for @BBCNews at Ten.’
It seems he was also then spoken to by bosses, as in a subsequent message he revealed the ‘pro-flag’ tweet had been ‘cut down’ and that it was ‘by order’ and instead said people could enjoy ‘this magnificent flag’, picturing one with the BBC logo.
Match Of The Day presenter Lineker also appeared to poke fun at the controversy when he wrote on Twitter: ‘Might buy a flag.’
The MPs’ letter to Mr Davie, which was co-ordinated by Bassetlaw Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, said: ‘We feel that the hosts need reminding that the B in BBC stands for British and that the comments and attitudes on display towards both our flag and our Queen were inappropriate and also disrespectful.’
Since becoming director-general last year Mr Davie has launched a crackdown on the way news stars behave on social media, as part of his moves to tackle impartiality issues at the broadcaster.
This week the BBC announced it is moving more of its staff and shows out of London, amid concerns it is dominated by a metropolitan elite that is out of touch with much of the country.
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