BBC reporter Tim Willcox to escape Paris censure
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BBC reporter Tim Willcox to escape Paris censure

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

by Stephen Oryszczuk

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.

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BBC reporter Tim Willcox tweeted an apology for his “poorly phrased” question during Paris march

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.”

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