BBC taken to task by bloggers for treatment of National Bullying Helpline

The BBC is facing criticism online for its treatment of the National Bullying Headline (NBH) as a source in reports on allegations of staff bullying by Gordon Brown.

The story broke over the weekend in an excerpt of journalist Andrew Rawnsley’s new book published in the Observer and reports by the BBC and other news organisations have featured a spokeswoman, Christine Pratt, from the NBH, saying the charity helpline had received calls from staff in the PM’s office in recent years.

Questions over confidentiality breaches aside, several bloggers are challenging a lack of clarity in the BBC’s reports over the bullying charity’s credentials and potential political links to the Conservative party.

On Tory Troll, Adam Bienkov says that basic checks of the NBH website suggest links to the Conservatives – an endorsement from David Cameron and patronage by Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe amongst other potential ties. On Twitter @malcolmcoles and @jackofkent have also been detailing the story and looking into NBH.

[Pratt seems to be back-pedalling now in comments made in a Sky News interview, saying while she did receive an email referring to the PM’s behaviour, she did not know if phonecalls to the helpline received from Gordon Brown’s staff were complaints about Brown himself.]

BBC reports did contain a statement from NBH’s Pratt that the organisation was non-political and BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson has since blogged on the questions about the NBH’s claims, stating:

Colleagues checked the status of the charity and questioned Ms Pratt’s claims.

We can’t, of course, verify the truth of her allegations – merely report them and Downing Street’s response to them.

But is this enough when Pratt’s statements seem to have eclipsed Rawnsley’s original reports as a central source for the BBC’s story?

5 thoughts on “BBC taken to task by bloggers for treatment of National Bullying Helpline

  1. selina howells

    The BBC’s report came from James Landale, deputy political editor. I really don’t know how he has become deputy political editor of the BBC. I find his reporting is often next to useless.

    Time will also show John Humphrys’ interview on the Today programme this morning was driving in completely the wrong direction.

  2. selina howells

    I’ve thought about this a bit more and the question we need to ask is what did James Landale know about prattgate when he first broke this story?

    If he had done a quick check on Google and the Charity Commission’s website he would have known Pratt’s charity had Tory connections and with a spend under £1,000 was actually a marketing tool for her business and not a real charity, so he was intentionally working for Labour running this story.

    If he did not know anything about Christine Pratt other than what she told him, he was working for Labour unintentionally.

  3. Acebratt

    Re National Bullying Helpline

    Check out Ms C Pratt v Sanden International (Europe) Ltd Aug 2003 – Employment Appeals Tribunal.

    IS this the same person??

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