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Diane Abbott slams ‘poorly briefed’ Question Time host Fiona Bruce

Dianne Abbott has accused new Question Time host Fiona Bruce of being ‘off the leash’ and not ‘well briefed’ as she launched a fresh attack on the BBC host today.

As the row between the two women rumbles on, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary has written about her appearance on the BBC show last week in a paper printed on Monday.

As she blasts Ms Bruce for allegedly making comments about her to stir up the audience before filming began last week, Ms Abbott said the presenter never gave her a fair chance. 

Ms Bruce won widespread praise after her first show when she took over from veteran presenter David Dimbleby who chaired the debate show for 25 years.

Now, she is facing complaints and a barrage of criticism from Labour who are demanding an on air apology after the third show filmed in Derby. 

Ms Abbott said of her many visits to Question Time she has ‘never had such a horrible experience’ as when she did with Fiona Bruce at the helm in Derby, last week.

Diane Abbott (right) said she had been ‘jeered at and interrupted more times than any other panellist’ on the flagship BBC programme presented by Fiona Bruce (left)

Jeremy Corbyn’s right hand woman wrote in The I that she was interrupted ‘more than double’ the amount of times interjections were made when Tory rivals were speaking.

She wrote: ‘Fiona Bruce who has taken over from Dimbleby on Question Time does not appear to be well briefed.

‘She got the polling for Labour versus Tory wrong. She (or her researcher) appears to have got their figures from a Conservative Central Office handout. Above all, it seems she is not afraid to appear unfair as a presenter.

‘I was interrupted more than double the number of times that Tory MP Rory Stewart was interrupted, even though he spoke for longer period overall. 

‘I was not allowed to respond to a blatantly abusive remark from the audience. I’m also told that she made unpleasant remarks about me to the audience before the programme was actually recorded, although the BBC has denied that ‘any of the panel was treated unfairly either before or during the recording’.

The pair clashed initially over polling figures on the show.

A spokesman for Diane Abbott (pictured on the programme) said it was 'clear that a hostile atmosphere was whipped up' against the Labour frontbencher 

A spokesman for Diane Abbott (pictured on the programme) said it was ‘clear that a hostile atmosphere was whipped up’ against the Labour frontbencher 

Ms Abbott told BBC Question Time: ‘Just as a point of information, currently in the polls overall we are currently level pegging.’

Journalist Isabel Oakeshott blasted: ‘You’re six points behind.’

People in The Question Time audience laughed when host Fiona Bruce added: ‘You’re behind, Diane. Definitely.’

However, the show later apologised for this saying Ms Abbott was right. 

Ms Abbott compared the presenter to the likes of the BBC’s Andrew Neil who is ‘supremely well briefed’ and has always read ‘every poll finding, every blog, every newspaper’ before his shows. 

Labour has lodged a formal complaint with the BBC over the treatment of shadow Ms Abbott.

Ms Abbott said the studio audience in Derby had been ‘wound up’ against her after the alleged remarks by Ms Bruce.

Five members of the studio audience publicly accused the presenter of making an ‘inappropriate’ joke before the programme on Thursday night. 

Some viewers said they were outraged while people in the audience complained about 'anti Diane Abbott sentiment' 

Some viewers said they were outraged while people in the audience complained about ‘anti Diane Abbott sentiment’ 

Although the attack on Ms Bruce was scathing, Ms Abbott said she does not blame her entirely and attacked the Question Time format.

She wrote: ‘Question Time’s editor seems more interested in entertainment than politics. 

‘In particular her holy grail seems to be clips of red faced men abusing politicians, that then go viral on Twitter. With David Dimbleby gone she is now off the leash and we are faced with the spectacle that you saw in Derby.’

Diane Abbott’s full statement 

A spokesman for Abbott said: ‘We are appalled by the treatment of Diane Abbott on BBC’s Question Time. 

‘It was clear that a hostile atmosphere was whipped up, propped up by reports of inappropriate and sexist commentary in the audience warm-up session.

‘A public broadcaster like the BBC should be expected to be a model of impartiality and equality.’ 

The told the Guardian: ‘The BBC cannot claim anything of the sort when analysis of the programme shows that the only black woman on the panel was jeered at and interrupted more times than any other panellist, including by the chair herself.’

‘The media must stop legitimising mistreatment, bias and abuse against Ms Abbott as a black woman in public life. The BBC should be ashamed that their programming is complicit in such behaviour.’ 

She went on: ‘As for Question Time itself, there may be a market for a political version of The Jeremy Kyle show, but that is not exactly what the production company Mentorn was commissioned to make.

‘In all my life I have never asked for special treatment, only fair treatment. But many viewers and people in the audience for last week’s Question Time thought that the way I was spoken about before the programme, the way that I was treated during the programme and the chairing of the programme were decidedly unfair.

‘And who could blame any young black and ethnic minority woman with an interest in politics and a left-of-centre ideology seeing the way I was treated on Question Time and deciding that politics is not for her?’

The BBC has acknowledged Ms Abbott was right about the polling figures, however Labour has said it wants an on-air apology.

The party is also demanding to see the footage from the audience warm-up.

A Labour source said: ‘We want to see the warm-up footage because of these claims from audience members and we want an on-air apology over the polling.’ 

Following the allegations made by Abbott, BBC responded saying: ‘We are sorry to hear Diane Abbott’s concerns over Thusday night’s edition of Question Time and we have contacted her team today to reassure them that reports circulating on social media are inaccurate and misleading. 

‘Diane is a regular and important contributor to the programme. As we said earlier, we firmly reject claims that any of the panel was treated unfairly either before or during the recording.’ 

MailOnline has asked the BBC to respond to the article written by Ms Abbott. 


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