A high-ranking BBC editor ordered a news chief not to interrogate Vote Leave’s £350 million Brexit bus campaign after the referendum, a new book has claimed.
Sir Robbie Gibb was “horrified” by the idea of putting the controversial claim under the microscope in the aftermath of the vote, according to Rob Burley, a former BBC editor.
His new book, entitled ‘Why Is This Lying Bastard Lying To Me?’, out this week, said Gibb didn’t want to make the Beeb look like sore losers after the Leave campaign won the referendum.
“All that was done, [Robbie] told me. It was time to move on,” Burley said. “He thought that anything that looked back at the referendum would look to voters like an attempt to rerun it. It risked giving the impression that the BBC couldn’t accept the outcome and wanted to discredit the result.”
Defending his stance, Gibb said the inflated £350 million figure “was not a lie at all”, adding that it is “just campaigning”.
He added that George Osborne’s claim that leaving the EU would cost every family £4,300 was based on “bizarre” Treasury modelling that was politically motivated and that BBC editors spent weeks during the campaign interrogating the £350 million claim on multiple occasions.
Burley acknowledged that Gibb was entitled to share his editorial view but ultimately ignored the instruction.
“Holding the Brexiteers to account for their claims was, and remains, completely justifiable journalistically,” he said.
“It’s not an attempt to rerun the referendum but to test the claims made in the campaign. It’s the same principle as judging a general election-winning government against their manifesto promises once they’re in power.”
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