Tory leadership candidates threaten BBC debate boycott after bias accusations

Tory PM hopefuls are reportedly threatening to walk out of future BBC TV debates after the corporation was accused of mishandling questions during Tuesday night’s hustings.

Plans for a Question Time-style show with the final two candidates and detailed interviews were under threat after a  row erupted about an Imam who quizzed candidates on Tuesday’s programme.

After he had put pressure on the candidates to condemn Islamophobia, it emerged Abdullah Patel had tweeted comments about politicians being “on the Zionist’s payroll” and endorsing the relocation of Israel to the US.

He has since been suspended from his role as a deputy headteacher, and the BBC said he wouldn’t have been selected if his tweets had been public during vetting.

Another person who asked the candidates if they would back a general election turned out to be a former Labour Party worker.

the BBC has been forced to defend its selection of two of the questioners (Image: Handout)


According to The Telegraph , three of the four remaining candidates’ campaigns said they might boycott the Beeb in favour of debates on ITV, Sky or Channel 4.

The corporation admitted on Wednesday that Mr Patel would not have been allowed onto the show if his history had been known.

A source close to Mr Johnson told The Telegraph: “It hasn’t helped the BBC’s case for hosting a Question Time-style debate.

“Candidates will now be casting doubt on the Question Time format and the balance and impartiality of the BBC audience.”

A source close to Sajid Javid said of Tuesday night’s hustings it “wasn’t an edifying format” and said a future bid must be better thought through.

A source close to Jeremy Hunt said: “We are reserving judgement but it’s fair to say we didn’t think it was brilliant.”

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith accused the corporation of bias and giving “the Labour Party an opportunity to damage the leadership process.”

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