BBC makes ‘serious editorial mistake’ in reporting anti-Semitic attack: UK Watchdog

The BBC has made a “serious editorial mistake” in reporting on an anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish student in London, UK media watchdog Ofcom has concluded.

On November 29, 2021, a group of Jewish students cursed, made obscene gestures and threw a shopping basket as they traveled in a privately hired Hanukkah party bus on Oxford Street in London. I was attacked by a group of men who threw me at my house. they.

On 2 December 2021, the BBC reported the incident in an online news story and TV news bulletin. Based on some video footage of the attack taken from inside the bus, both reports claimed they heard “racial slurs about Muslims” coming from inside the bus.

In a statement issued on 7 November 2022, Ofcom said it had revealed a “serious editorial error” in its coverage of the BBC incident.

“Anti-Islamic Slander”

A security guard said: Shortly thereafter, we received evidence challenging this interpretation of the audio. ”

The BBC’s “anti-Muslim slander” claim was contested by a significant number of groups and individuals complaining to the broadcaster about the accuracy and fairness of its reporting.

According to Ofcom’s report on the incident, some critics believed that the phrase the BBC identified as an apparently defamatory “dirty Muslim” was actually one of the Hebrew phrases “Tikrah lemishu, ze dachuf”. Department, and claimed that an English translation would translate to “Please call someone.” , is urgent. “

However, the BBC “did not immediately acknowledge that the audio was disputed and had not updated an online news story to reflect this in nearly eight weeks,” the media watchdog said.

“During this time, the BBC was aware that the content of the article caused grave distress and anxiety to the victims of the attack and to the wider Jewish community.

“In our opinion, this was a grave failure to adhere to our editorial guidelines of reporting news accurately and fairly.”

Watchdog said the TV news story “didn’t break any rules at the time it was broadcast” and was “available 24 hours a day on the BBC iPlayer”, but “the BBC found a serious editorial misunderstanding.” At any point, new evidence appeared to challenge the allegations I made about the anti-Muslim smear.”


Following Ofcom’s investigation, the BBC’s Executive Claims Unit (ECU) concluded that both the online and television articles “did not meet the BBC’s standards of legitimate accuracy”.

In January following the report, the BBC issued an apology, confirming it had amended the article on its website, and also clarified a television report that aired on the same day.

A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism said of Ofcom’s ruling: The BBC itself refused to accept. The reportage added insult to the wounds already inflicted on victims and the Jewish community and failed to meet the most basic editorial standards. ”

PA Media contributed to this report.

Alexander Chan