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Pro-EU MEPs to lobby BBC boss over Question Time 'bias'

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
UKIP MEP Nigel Farage has appeared on Question Time on 32 times

A group of pro-EU MEPs are to meet the BBC amid a row over the choice of Question Time panelists.

BBC director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth will travel to Brussels next week to meet a cross-party delegation of MEPs who have raised concerns about representation on the show.

The meeting comes after Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder complained about the lack of pro-EU MEPs on Question Time.

UKIP’s Nigel Farage has made the joint highest number of appearances – 32 – on the BBC’s flagship political programme since the turn of the century.

An analysis of appearances between 2013 and 2018 showed the majority of MEPs who appeared were from UKIP.

The only other UK MEP to be included during that period was Conservative Brexit supporter Dan Hannan.

The BBC were forced to respond to chart after it was shared more than 2,000 times on Twitter.

“The parties on Question Time are there because people vote for them in elections – not just Westminster ones. So sometimes parties will be represented by MEPs, MSPs, AMs etc,” the BBC press team said.

But their answer didn’t satisfy pro-EU MEPs, who requested a face-to-face hearing from the BBC.

Sinn Fein’s pro-EU MEP Martina Anderson, who represents the Northern Ireland constituency, was on the panel in 2011.

More recently, Mairead McGuinness, an MEP from the Republic of Ireland, appeared this March.

But Conservative MEP Charles Tannock said the statistics proved BBC’s “bias” against pro-EU MEPs.

Tannock and Bearder are among the MEPs who will be meeting Unsworth in Brussels next Wednesday.

Richard Corbett and Seb Dance of Labour, Molly Scot Cato of the Greens, Alyn Smith of the SNP are among other MEPs who will attend.

Bearder said: “We’ve invited the BBC to the European parliament for an honest discussion about Brexit and how our main public broadcaster covers news related to the EU.

“The BBC have been really constructive and positive by accepting our invitation and we look forward to meeting them.”