The BBC has found itself in trouble after issuing a surprising warning against its own journalists not to Tweet their "private" political views.
The warning, which was sent to BBC staff via email by the broadcasting giant's Director of News and Current Affairs, Fran Unsworth, asked employees to avoid expressing political views and openly criticising colleagues on social media platforms. Furthermore, the email reads that "appropriate actions" would follow for anyone who refuses to comply with the rules.
"We all have personal views, but it is part of our role with the BBC to keep those views private," Miss Unsworth wrote in the email.
"Our Editorial Guidelines say BBC staff must not 'advocate any particular position on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject'," she added.
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) 4 April 2019
The email came after a number of BBC presenters were critical of a debate question raised during the corporation's flagship programme 'Question Time,' which asked the show's discussion panel whether "it is morally right for five-year-old children to learn about LGBT issues in school."
Ben Thompson, who presents BBC Breakfast, made his frustration with the wording of the question clear in a Tweet.
— Ben Thompson (@BBCBenThompson) 29 March 2019
Mr Thompson was not the only one to express his discomfort. Long-time presenter Sue Perkins also waded into the debate, saying that she found the "framing" of the question "deeply worrying."
— Sue Perkins (@sueperkins) 29 March 2019
No longer contained to the BBC, the issue has mutated into a bigger political headache for the corporation's bosses, with a number of high profile figures entering the fray, including Labour MP Wes Streeting, and BBC Three deputy editor, Declan Cashin.
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) 4 April 2019
— Declan Cashin (@Tweet_Dec) 4 April 2019
A BBC spokeswoman has issued a statement saying of the email sent out by Miss Unsworth, "this was a general reminder to all BBC news staff about social media guidelines and made no mention of LGBT issues."