Former BBC star Sue Cook, 71, slams broadcaster over its unbalanced Covid coverage

Veteran BBC presenter Sue Cook has slammed her former employer for its ‘unbalanced’ Covid-19 coverage, claiming they constantly ‘wheeled out’ scientist Neil Ferguson ahead of other experts.

The 71-year-old former Crimewatch host criticised the corporation for its ease at inviting ‘Professor Lockdown’ on to push for shutting down the UK to combat the pandemic.

Cook also said she had stopped listening to the BBC’s Today programme after becoming ‘disillusioned’.

It comes after the academic – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ after his apocalyptic warning that 500,000 people would die led to the national shutdown – spoke on Today earlier this week to warn that the Government may need to shut pubs in order to keep schools open. 

She said: ”One thing that annoys me about the BBC is the people they choose to platform and the people they don’t,’ said Cook.

‘I’ve seen some interesting people like Professor Karol Sikora, Carl Heneghan, Ivor Cummins… but all you see for some inexplicable reason is Neil Ferguson, all the time you see Neil Ferguson being wheeled out.

‘What a discredited… what a load of things he’s got wrong in the past. I would like to see some other people, other voices.’ 

Neil Ferguson was dubbed Professor Lockdown in the spring when the crisis began because he convinced Boris Johnson to order millions to stay at home.

Matt Hancock has admitted that his advice, which included apocalyptic warnings of 500,000 UK deaths, had heavily influenced the Government’s policies.

But he was later publicly shamed after it emerged that he had asked his mistress to travel across London from her £1.9million home at least twice.

This was despite lecturing 66 million in Britain on the need to stay apart to stop the spread of the killer virus and stop the NHS being overwhelmed with patients. 

Veteran BBC presenter Sue Cook has slammed her old employer for their ‘unbalanced’ Covid-19 coverage, claiming they constantly ‘wheel out’ scientist Neil Ferguson before other experts

'All you see for some inexplicable reason is Neil Ferguson, all the time you see Neil Ferguson (pictured) being wheeled out,' said Cook

‘All you see for some inexplicable reason is Neil Ferguson, all the time you see Neil Ferguson (pictured) being wheeled out,’ said Cook

‘I don’t want to give my opinions on things, that’s not a BBC journalist’s job at all, the job is to giving everything a fair hearing and let people make their own minds up using the facts.’  

Cook also said she had stopped listening to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme after two decades.

‘After 20 years of listening to the Today programme, I had to turn it off a few months ago,’ added Cook.

‘I don’t know what’s happened to the BBC. I now listen to Talk Radio because I get my concerns addressed on Talk Radio.

‘Everyone from the butcher to someone walking their dog past me in the street all say, ‘what is going on with the media?’.

‘It was such a privilege to work for the BBC when I first started out in the 1970s.

‘I was just knocked out by how wonderful it was working for the BBC. I’ve been so loyal to them for years and years but the last couple of months has really disillusioned me terribly.’ 

Earlier this year Professor Neil Ferguson, a former adviser to the Government before he resigned after breaking lockdown rules to meet his married lover, stood by his prediction that half a million people could have died without a lockdown.  

Work he produced alongside colleagues at Imperial College London suggested that if no action was taken to slow down coronavirus, at least 510,000 people could have died.

The report is widely believed to have triggered Boris Johnson into ordering the nation to stay at home in March, earning Ferguson the name ‘Professor Lockdown’. 

The doomsday report published on March 16 by Imperial’s Covid-19 Response Team predicted that death rates could soar if coronavirus wasn’t controlled in the UK.

It said: ‘In the (unlikely) absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behaviour, we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately three months…

‘The higher peak in mortality in Great Britain is due to the smaller size of the country and its older population compared with the US.

‘In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality.’

The report was published just one week before Britain’s total lockdown started, and Professor Ferguson’s work was credited with pressuring politicians. 

This week Downing Street officials refused to rule out shutting pubs altogether after Professor Ferguson said it might be the only way to keep schools open. 

The scientist said it was not clear that the government could contain the virus while keeping children in secondary schools – and suggested that the wider population will have to ‘give up more’ to maintain the education provision- including shutting bars and restaurants altogether.

Downing Street declined to rule out making the trade-off, saying that all measures were being kept ‘under review’. 

Neil Ferguson’s 510k COVID deaths forecast was 12 TIMES too high and panicked No10 into full lockdown 

Downing Street was panicked into a full national lockdown after its scientific advisers Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance were given doomsday mortality projections by Imperial College’s Neil Ferguson, a biography of Boris Johnson by investigative author Tom Bower reveals.

Bower tells how a critical meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on February 25 was presented with the ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ from Professor Ferguson under which 80 per cent of Britons would be infected and the death-toll would be 510,000 people.

The author writes: ‘This was an improvement on Ferguson’s earlier assessment that between 2 per cent and 3 per cent would die – up to 1.5 million deaths. Even with mitigation measures, he said, the death toll could be 250,000 and the existing intensive care units would be overwhelmed eight times over.

‘Neither Vallance nor Whitty outrightly challenged Ferguson’s model or predictions. 

‘By contrast, in a series of messages from Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor who would correctly predict the pandemic’s initial trajectory, Ferguson was warned that he had overestimated the potential death toll by ‘ten to 12 times’.’