The BBC has been slammed by Martin Forde KC for its coverage of the Labour party, with the top lawyer describing some of its coverage as being “entirely misleading”. Mr Forde, the lawyer appointed by Sir Keir Starmer to investigate allegations of anti-semitism in the Labour Party, accused the BBC of taking an internal email sent within the Labour party out of context. He said the email – used in a BBC Panorama documentary – had been “filleted”, meaning the “context was lost and a more sinister interpretation could be placed upon that email than was ever intended”.
While the lawyer admitted that he “could not go so far as to say it was deliberate”, he told Al Jazeera it seemed to be “objectively entirely misleading”.
BBC Panorama was criticised by Mr Forde for its “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” documentary in his report on the Labour party.
He claimed he was under pressure from journalists within the BBC to amend his criticism of the panorama documentary.
But speaking about his own report into the Labour party, Mr Forde said: “I felt I had a fuller picture [than the BBC] because I interviewed not only some of the participants in the programme but I also interviewed some people who didn’t participate in the programme.”
He said that, having been a barrister for 38 years, he thinks he “would have a degree of forensic skill and an ability to try and assess credibility and consistency, because that’s what lawyers look for.”
Mr Forde’s interview with Al Jazeera also saw him criticise Sir Keir Starmer for an “insufficient” response to antisemitism.
This comes despite the Labour leader having last month heralded the end of anti-semitism within the party.
Mr Forde said he has had almost no communication with anyone from within the Labour party to tackle to issues highlighted by the report in the wake of its publication.
The lawyer said he has “anxiety” and “genuine underlying concerns” about “racial issues within the party”.
Referring to Sir Keir’s speech last month, in which the Labour leader said the party will “never again be brought to its knees by racism or bigotry”, Mr Forde said: “It is not a sufficient response to say ‘that was then this is now’.”
He added: “These are serious debates that need to be heard in a respectful context. And I just feel this there’s work to be done.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission last month announced that it has concluded its monitoring of the Labour Party over anti-semitism within the party.
Responding to the commission’s decision during a speech in London, Sir Keir said: “Today is an important moment in the history of the Labour Party.
“It’s taken many, many months of hard work and humility to get here.
“It’s meant rebuilding trust, not just with the Jewish community but with all those who were rightly appalled by the culture of the party and the previous leadership.”
Sir Keir also blocked Mr Corbyn, who is currently suspended from the party, from making a return, saying will “categorically” not stand as a Labour Party candidate at the next general election.
He said: “Let me be very clear about that: Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at the next general election, as a Labour Party candidate.
“What I said about the party changing, I meant, and we are not going back, and that is why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.”
Sir Keir said that anti-semitism is “an evil” and “no political party that cultivates it deserves to hold power”.
The BBC and the Labour Party have been contacted for comment.