BBC Faces Criticism for Asking Guest About Voting History

Pollster Scarlett Maguire claims a journalist asked her how she voted in the last election before she was allowed on air

A regular contributor to British state broadcaster the BBC has alleged that she was asked to reveal her vote in the previous election before being permitted to appear on air. After voicing her astonishment on social media, an anonymous BBC representative told The Telegraph that the inappropriate question had been asked by an inexperienced employee by mistake.

Scarlett Maguire, a director at polling company JL Partners, posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday: “Bizarre interaction this morning just before going into an interview at the BBC. Was asked *how I voted* at the last election as a precondition for coming on air. Is this standard practice for guests now??”

An unnamed BBC source attributed the incident to a junior employee misinterpreting the “guidelines around impartiality on this occasion,” according to The Telegraph.

Under the BBC’s guidelines, staff should not “automatically assume” that their guests are free from bias, and should elicit “appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints.”

In an unrelated case last November, Al Jazeera reported that eight BBC employees had accused the broadcaster of failing to accurately cover the conflict in Gaza due to “lack of critical engagement with Israel’s claims.”

The month before, the BBC launched an investigation into six reporters and a freelance contributor working for its Arabic service, who were accused of exhibiting anti-Israel bias and cheering attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on social media.

Around the same time, Israeli President Isaac Herzog criticized the BBC for using the word “militants” instead of terrorists in reference to Hamas members. Later, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Peter Lerner suggested that the broadcaster owed Israel an apology after expressing doubts over IDF claims regarding Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. Israeli forces entered this medical facility, claiming that it was being used by Hamas as an arms depot, and was connected to the group’s extensive network of underground tunnels.

In January 2023, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi claimed that the “bias, the lack of objectivity and, frankly, a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible” in a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The program alleged that Modi’s government discriminated against Muslims, and claimed that the politician may have played a role in instigating ethnic riots in 2002.