THE BBC has dismissed a formal complaint about the host of Question Time intervening on behalf of a Conservative MP to criticise trade unionist Mick Lynch.

The BBC has upheld just one criticism of its reporting out of a total of 14 stage two complaints in its latest fortnightly complaints report.

Fiona Bruce received criticism for her chairing of a Question Time debate including Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT, after she allegedly showed “pro-Conservative” bias.

She challenged Lynch on behalf of a Conservative panellist saying she had been “quiet as a mouse” on a debate about pay rises for rail workers.

The BBC said it was a “long-established convention that the role of chairing Question Time goes beyond holding the ring between the panellists and the audience”.

The broadcaster’s executive complaints unit [ECU] added: “[Bruce] believed there was an issue which needed addressing but had not been picked up by a panellist, the ECU took the view that she was entitled to ask that question herself."

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The complainant has the right to make their case to Ofcom, which considers the complaint in the context of its broadcasting code.

Complaints from July 18 to 31 were compiled and reviewed by the corporation with the most complained-about programme being a Tory leadership debate, which racked up 226 criticisms.

The programme, broadcast on July 25, was criticised for being “unfairly moderated” with many viewers saying they felt presenter Sophie Raworth had allowed “Rishi Sunak to dominate the debate”.

The BBC defended the journalist saying: “We believe Sophie moderated this debate in a fair and impartial manner.”

Only one complaint at stage two was upheld, which focused on an interview with It’s A Sin creator and Doctor Who head writer Russell T Davies, who laid into the Government’s plans to sell off Channel 4.

Calling the issue “politically controversial” the BBC said it had failed in its duty to show “impartiality” in reporting on the matter but said the interview clip, included in a TV news report, had been used “by mistake”.

Two stage-two complaints saying the BBC had shown “bias in favour of the monarchy” in covering the Platinum Jubilee were swatted away with the broadcaster defending its coverage, which some described as “excessive”.

The BBC claimed a “large majority” of its audience would not expect criticism of the Royal Family in its reporting on the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s reign.

A section of a programme on BBC Radio Ulster in which panellists discussed the BBC’s decision not to provide live television coverage of the Orange Order’s Twelfth of July demonstration in Belfast was said by a complainant to have included “offensive and derogatory remarks” about Loyalists.

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Accepting the discussion “did become somewhat animated towards the end of the programme” the broadcaster said the views were not likely to offend or cause harm in the wider context of the discussion.

Unvaccinated, a programme broadcast on July 20 about people who had chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid-19, drew some 133 complaints as people said the programme had shown “bias in favour of Covid vaccinations”.

The third most-complained about programme in the period at stage one of the complaints process was the Women’s Euros coverage on July 12, the day after England had defeated Denmark 8-0.

The broadcaster received 107 complaints saying it was “inappropriate or ‘racist’ to discuss diversity in sport".

The programme Around the World in 80 Days, a fictional programme about a man travelling the world by train, boat and hot air balloon, also came in for criticism with a complainant alleging there was “potential for dangerous imitation”.

It comes after Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, rapped the BBC over viewers’ concerns the broadcaster was not “impartial”, telling the corporation to be “much more transparent and open with its audiences”.