Online outrage has forced the BBC to defend the broadcaster's decision to air the live resignation of a Labour shadow minister in protest over Jeremy Corbyn's reshuffle. Stephen Doughty stepped down from his party's top team on the BBC2 Daily Politics show ahead of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) on 6 January.
Doughty, the former shadow foreign minister, made the move after Corbyn sacked Pat McFadden. The Labour leader apparently axed the ex-shadow Europe minister for making "disloyal" statements. But McFadden's allies claim Corbyn's decision was based on his criticism of the Stop the War Coalition over the group's comments in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
It later emerged that Doughty had told the BBC's political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, of his plans to quit. A post on the BBC's College of Journalism site, which has been removed, claimed Daily Politics host Andrew Neil had asked Kuenssberg about getting the then unnamed junior shadow minister on his show.
"Within the hour we heard that Laura had sealed the deal: the shadow foreign minister Stephen Doughty would resign live in the studio," the College of Journalism post explained.
The behind-the-scenes article was picked up on social media sites such as Reddit and Twitter. Allegations of a conspiracy and "bias" against Corbyn began appearing on the site. But the BBC have come out fighting and defended the exclusive story.
"The shadow cabinet reshuffle was a major story this week and many MPs from all camps had strong opinions which were fairly reflected across BBC output," a spokesperson for the broadcaster said. "Stephen Doughty had already decided to resign and willingly chose to make his announcement on the programme."
The latest "bias" claims come after the BBC's former political editor, Nick Robinson, was accused of "scaremongering" by the former first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond. The SNP firebrand and top political journalist had an infamous row over the issue in the wake of the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum.
The claims of "bias" even led to hundreds of "Yes" supporters marching on BBC Scotland's HQ in Glasgow in September 2014.
Incidentally, Robinson has admitted to writing to BBC colleagues over how the broadcaster covered Corbyn's Labour leadership campaign. He told The Sunday Times: "Although I was off work, I did drop a note to a few people after his first weekend saying this is really interesting and we owe it to the audience to sound as if we're interested."