During party conferences, the BBC broadcast a piece of footage showing Andrew Tyrie, the chair of the Treasury select committee, talking in hushed tones to Steve Hilton and Craig Oliver before being interviewed by one of their reporters. The Beeb noted that after meeting the pair, Tyrie gave a much more positive assessment of George Osborne’s economic strategy than he had done just a few days before. We noted the encounter here on the blog, as did a number of other media outlets.
The coverage infuriated Tyrie, who says his independence was being called into question unfairly. Well now the BBC has issued a fairly extraordinary on-air apology, stating:
Last month we carried some reports from the Conservative Party conference which fell below our usual standards. Our reports gave a misleading impression that Andrew Tyrie MP had been influenced by a Downing Street official to say something he did not believe to be true. We have apologised to Mr Tyrie for these reports.
Apparently the full footage shows Tyrie initiating the conversation in the first place, which is the basis of the BBC’s apology. The BBC are not claiming however that they know what was discussed by Tyrie, Hilton and Oliver.