BBC apologises after presenter calls JN mayoral debate the ‘Jewish lobby’

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BBC apologises after presenter calls JN mayoral debate the ‘Jewish lobby’

BBC London presenter Eddie Nestor repeatedly asked mayoral candidate about 'power' of Jews in staging hustings following a debate hosted by JW3

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

JW3's Raymond Simonson (left) introduces candidates Zoe Garbett, Sadiq Khan, Rob Blakie and Susan Hall, with chair Richard Ferrer, (right).
JW3's Raymond Simonson (left) introduces candidates Zoe Garbett, Sadiq Khan, Rob Blakie and Susan Hall, with chair Richard Ferrer, (right).

The BBC has apologised for “the phrasing of the question” after a BBC London radio presenter, Eddie Nestor, referred three times to what he called “the Jewish lobby” during an on-air discussion with a candidate for London mayor.

The conversation with Rob Blackie, Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor, took place last month as Nestor wondered why it was seldom possible to find all the candidates together at a mayoral hustings.

Specifically referring to an event held by London Jewish Forum at JW3,  chaired by Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer, Nestor said: “The only time all four of you were together …was for the Jewish lobby. Why is it that [Jewish] lobby is so much more powerful than people with disabilities, why is it [the Jewish Lobby] so much more powerful than people who are worried about the safety of women and girls, the aged voter..”

It felt to him, Nestor said, as though the hustings were an opportunity “whether it be on special interests, [or] ableism, whether it be blacks, gays, whoever”.  Blackie said he agreed.

Asked directly by Nestor “why do you think that [JW3] is the only place all four of you have been?”, Blackie said he couldn’t say why Conservative or Labour candidates would not attend every husting. He added: “I’ve been invited to something like 13 so far and I think I’ve said yes to about eight of them, some of them I can’t do for things like childcare, because my wife will be away at work but on the whole I try to get to as many of them as I can.”

The BBC, responding to Jewish News, said: “We apologise for the phrasing of the question. Our intention was not to perpetuate harmful stereotypes or imply undue influence. We value diversity and are committed to using language that accurately reflects different perspectives. This has been discussed with the presenter and the wider editorial team.”

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