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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Diane Abbott accuses Question Time host of ‘repeating Tory propaganda’ as row with BBC deepens

2 min read

The row between Labour and the BBC has deepened after Diane Abbott blasted new Question Time host Fiona Bruce for "repeating Tory propaganda".

The Shadow Home Secretary has dismissed claims from the BBC that she was not mistreated during her appearance on last week's show, as she claimed she was subjected to a “horrible experience”.

Following Thursday's broadcast, a spokeswoman for Ms Abbott accused the BBC of “legitimising racism” against her after she was repeatedly interrupted and claimed she was denied the chance to reply to a “blatantly abusive” comment from an audience member.

The row between Labour and the broadcaster flared after new host Ms Bruce contested Ms Abbott's assertion that Labour and the Conservatives were neck-and-neck in the polls, arguing the party were “definitely behind”. But in the last 10 results Labour have led in four, been behind in four and level in two.

The BBC tweeted: “We’ve reviewed what was said re polling. A YouGov poll published on the day suggested a lead for the Conservatives.

Diane Abbott was also right that some other polls suggested Labour either ahead or tied and we should have made that clear.”

In a further statement they added: "Diane is a regular and important contributor to the programme.

“We firmly reject claims that any of the panel was treated unfairly either before or during the recording.”

But Ms Abbott took to Twitter to hit out at the response, writing: “This is not an apology and does not address all of the issues that have been raised.

“Fiona Bruce was clearly repeating Tory propaganda that Labour were behind in the polls. If she had said behind in one poll, that would have been (a) different matter."

Following the show’s broadcast, several people who claimed to have been in the audience also alleged that Ms Bruce had made a joke about the Shadow Home Secretary being handed her job because of her previous personal relationship with Jeremy Corbyn. The BBC have refused to confirm or deny that accusation.

It is believed that the party has now called on the BBC to issue an on-air apology for their treatment of Ms Abbott.

A Labour source told the Independent: “Diane Abbott has been subjected to a serious, often racist and sexist campaign of hate and abuse. The way she was treated on Question Time was unacceptable and fed hostility towards her.

“We expect the programme to correct inaccuracies, provide a full explanation of what happened during the show’s production and to apologise to Diane.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We have received Labour’s latest communication and will respond to them.”

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