ROBBIE Gibb – a BBC board member described as an “active agent” of the Tory party – reportedly tried to block a journalist at the broadcaster from probing the infamous Vote Leave claim about £350 million of funding for the NHS.

Written on the side of the red “Brexit bus”, the anti-Europe campaign claimed the UK sent “the EU £350m a week”, adding: “Let’s fund our NHS instead.”

The claim became one of the most enduring images of the Brexit campaign, but controversy surrounded its accuracy and fact-checking services branded it “wrong”.

But Gibb reportedly attempted to get a BBC journalist to “move on” and drop an investigation into the claim, and has since insisted that it was “not a lie at all”.

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Rob Burley, a former BBC editor, said in his newly published book “Why Is This Lying Bastard Lying To Me?” that Gibb was “horrified” by the idea of the bus claim being interrogated.

“All that was done, [Gibb] told me. It was time to move on,” Burley said. “He thought that anything that looked back at the referendum would look to voters like an attempt to rerun it. It risked giving the impression that the BBC couldn’t accept the outcome and wanted to discredit the result.”

Gibb, who was working as the BBC’s editor of live political programmes at the time of the Brexit vote, has since gone on to advise GB News prior to its launch and work as Theresa May’s director of communications.

Speaking for the book, Gibb told Burley: “It’s just not true that politicians lie all the time … £350m was not a lie at all. It’s just campaigning.

“Nobody ever says, ‘What about Labour saying you’ve got 24 hours to save the NHS?’ [as Tony Blair did on the eve on the 1997 General Election] – but when it’s about Boris Johnson they do. So I just have no truck with it.”

Gibb said: “We spent weeks during the campaign interrogating the £350m claim on multiple occasions. After the referendum result there were so many new and important angles to examine.”

Burley, who was working on the Andrew Marr Show in 2016, ultimately ignored Gibb’s intervention. He said that looking into the bus’s claim was “completely justifiable journalistically”.

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Gibb, the brother of Tory schools minister Nick Gibb, has close ties to the Conservative party.

Emily Maitlis, the former Newsnight host, said during the 2022 MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that Gibb was “acting as the arbiter of BBC impartiality”.

She said he was an “active agent” of the Tory party and was trying to influence the BBC’s output.

The latest revelations come after Richard Sharp, a Tory donor installed at the top of the BBC during Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister, was forced to step down after being found to have broken the corporation's code on public appointments.