On Tuesday, September 7, the BBC’s director of news Fran Unsworth announced that she was due to resign. Her resignation came amid internal battles over a staff reorganisation and news that Jess Brammar was in the running for a top BBC post.
The appointment of Ms Brammar, a former deputy editor of Newsnight and editor of HuffPost UK, to a top news role with the corporation has raised concerns amongst ministers due to her impartiality.
If appointed, Ms Brammar would oversee the BBC’s domestic and international news channels.
Theresa May’s director of communications Sir Robbie Gibb has voiced that he opposes the move and raised concerns over Ms Brammar’s neutrality.
He appealed to the BBC’s director of news Fran Unsworth about the implications of the appointment, stating that she “cannot make this appointment”.
He also issued a warning that if Ms Brammar was given the job, the Government’s “fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered”.
Sources from BBC have told The Times that an announcement about the appointment of the journalist was due “quite soon”, and would come as one of the final acts for its director of news who steps down in January.
Ms Brammar has previously conducted Brexit-bashing on social media, including an instance in a since-deleted tweet where she described Britain’s EU exit as being like a popular TV comedy-drama but “less funny or interesting or enjoyable”.
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He said in July: “People like Laura Kuenssberg make their professional reputations on being completely impartial.
“Then the BBC management goes off and starts suggesting it should hire someone from a left-wing outlet, and that damages the whole perception of independence and impartiality at the BBC.”
One BBC source said last month that the instance is a no-win situation as any decision made is likely to be criticised.
The source said: “If the BBC doesn’t appoint her, then it looks weak, callow, and partial because it’s giving in to the government of the day about something so minor. If it does appoint her, it will be a massive culture war issue.”
Ms Unsworth’s current position involves overseeing the national broadcaster’s news and current affairs output and her resignation comes amid restructuring talks.
The BBC’s restructure, a response in reacting to changing audience needs, will see roles within the department moved outside London while other staff will be taking redundancy.