Emily Maitlis ‘asked for night off’ after BBC said Dominic Cummings intro breached impartiality standards

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Emily Maitlis has confirmed she asked not to present Wednesday’s Newsnight after the BBC said an introduction in which she discussed Dominic Cummings breached standards.

The presenter was replaced by Katie Razzall on the same day the broadcaster said she “did not meet our standards of due impartiality” over her coverage of the prime minister’s chief adviser.

Ms Maitlis was praised by some viewers for her introduction to Tuesday’s show, during which she said Mr Cummings had “broken the rules” and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot”.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Ms Maitlis tweeted her thanks to her colleague for stepping in, confirming she had asked for the night off.

She said: “So grateful to my friend and excellent colleague @katierazz for stepping in this evening.

“She did so because I asked for the night off – knowing tonight’s prog would be in the most excellent hands.”

Newsnight’s UK editor Katie Razzall also tweeted: “Just for the record, Emily @maitlis has not been asked by the BBC to take tonight off – and if I thought she had been, I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to present the show.”

In the programme opening on Wednesday, Ms Maitlis said: “The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us he worked within [the rules], the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.

“He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of elite on those who disagreed.

“He should understand that public mood now – one of fury, contempt and anguish.”

Her comments came after Mr Cummings said he acted “reasonably and legally” when he drove 260 miles from London to Durham during the lockdown after his wife developed coronavirus symptoms.

The BBC said in a statement on Wednesday staff had been “reminded of the guidelines” around impartiality following the broadcast, adding that the corporation must “uphold the highest standards of due impartiality in its news output”.

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