The BBC is unlikely to take any action over reporter Tim Willcox for seemingly linking the deadly attack on a kosher deli in Paris to events in the Middle East.
In a letter to complainants, the national broadcaster defended Willcox’s live reporting of the Paris solidarity march, during which he challenged an Israeli woman called Chava by suggesting that anti-Semitic attacks were linked to “Palestinian suffering”.
In response to Chava saying “Jews are targets now,” Willcox said: “Critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.” He later apologised on Twitter, saying his question was “poorly phrased”.
A letter, dated 20 February, noted the provisional outcome of the investigation, which considered the allegation that Willcox’s comments “constituted a serious breach of editorial standards, of a kind which would require due public correction and apology”.
In it, Fraser Steel, the head of the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), said: “I see nothing in Mr Willcox’s comments which is intrinsically disrespectful, and I saw nothing in Chava’s demeanour to suggest that she felt disrespected.”
He added: “I am not proposing to uphold the complaints…. I share Mr Willcox’s view that his comments were poorly-phrased, but I think they were no worse than that.”
Pro-Israel activists derided the response. “This is yet further evidence that the BBC cannot be trusted to investigate its own journalistic failings,” said Simon Plosker of HonestReporting, which monitors anti-Israel bias in news media. “The arguments laid out by the BBC make me wonder if the ECU reviewed a completely different piece of footage to the rest of us.”