The BBC has been criticised for staging an anti-lockdown sceptic as the numbers of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions spiral out of control.
Toby Young was invited to appear on Newsnight with Emily Maitlis alongside Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt.
It comes just weeks after the outspoken sceptic shared fake photos of hospital beds as ambulances queued outside hospitals amid a surge in admissions.
The falsification of the evidence echoed comments made in the summer when he declared that the “much ballyhooed ‘second spike’ has refused to materialise”, adding that “the virus has all but disappeared” in The Telegraph.
Questioned on the matter by Maitlis he accepted he had “got that wrong”, but added “let’s not forget that was in the summer”.
“Hands up I got that wrong” *barely pauses for breath* the guy’s a master tbh pic.twitter.com/5nEA774YxC— Alan White (@aljwhite) January 6, 2021
Ian Dunt also cut a visibly frustrated figure, saying he doesn’t know how he would sleep at night if he published unreliable information in the height of a pandemic.
Responding to questions over whether people should be censored he added:
“The question isn’t should you be able to put out this information, it’s should you write it or publish it in the first place”.
Toby Young gets a welcome shoeing on Newsnight.— Simon Gosden. Esq. #fbpe 3.5% ??????☠️?? (@g_gosden) January 6, 2021
“You shouldn’t be publishing it, you have no basis to do it and I don’t know how I’d sleep at night if I was someone writing it myself.”
The reaction to Young being given a platform on the BBC has been far from complimentary.
We’ve rounded up the best of it so far below:
BBC Newsnight gets Toby Young on for a chat about free speech because a Murdoch outlet was temporarily censored for spreading all sorts of denialist, conspiratorial, bigoted nonsense. Newsnight didn’t bother covering the Assange verdict.— Simon Vessey (@Simon_Vessey) January 5, 2021
How dare the public funded BBC have the odious Toby Young on Newsnight spreading and seeking to justify his vile and obnoxious views. Don’t give him the airtime. We deserve better. Much better. He is wrong and they are wrong to broadcast him. Very wrong.— estelle burns #FBPE ? #IamEuropean #RejoinEU (@estelle2009) January 5, 2021
Toby Young has tweeted this image to make a false claim about the occupancy of ICU beds in order to downplay a respiratory virus that has killed 70,000+ and is currently out of control.— Macca (@McB00merang) December 29, 2020
The image is from Guantanamo Bay (2012) and Young is often given a platform by the BBC. pic.twitter.com/gGDVczf8k9
The BBC had Sunetra Gupta on Radio 4 this morning and now it’s booked Toby Young for Newsnight.— James Temperton (@jtemperton) January 5, 2021
News organisations need to stop giving dangerous fringe views a platform in the pursuit of balance. https://t.co/sS1PhOLfyK