Susanna Reid defends Fiona Bruce over domestic abuse Question Time controversy
Susanna Reid has defended Fiona Bruce over the fallout from the controversy regarding a discussion on domestic abuse on Question Time, describing her treatment as ‘outrageous’.
This week, Bruce, 58, announced that she had decided to step down from her role as an ambassador of the charity Refuge after she was accused of trivialising domestic abuse on the BBC programme.
While discussing an alleged incident of domestic violence, after Stanley Johnson’s wife previously claimed that he broke her nose, the TV presenter had said: ‘Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen, it was a one-off.’
Following backlash online, Bruce said in a statement declaring her resignation from her role at Refuge: ‘Last week on Question Time, I was required to legally contextualise a question about Stanley Johnson. Those words have been taken as an expression of my own opinions which they are absolutely not, and as a minimising of domestic abuse, which I would never do.’
She continued: ‘I know survivors of domestic abuse have been distressed by what I was required to say on-air. For that, I am deeply sorry. I cannot change what I was required to say, but I can apologise for the very real impact that I can see it has had.’
On Tuesday’s Good Morning Britain, Reid, 52, spoke to her co-host Ed Balls, 56, as well as a panel of guests about Bruce’s decision following the staunch criticism she received on social media over her conversation with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown about Johnson on Question Time.
‘Yasmin, as you saw in that clip, then pointed out the allegation that was made about Stanley Johnson. It was incumbent on Fiona Bruce, as the host of that panel, to – as she says – contextualise it,’ Reid said.
Balls then chimed in to add: ‘Can I just say Susanna, I’ve actually seen this in the last year, which I’ve never experienced before, when you do that, which is put the other side, which is our responsibility when we’re doing the roles we’re playing, you get these pile-ons on social media where people assume that if we say that, that’s what we believe.
‘That’s what happened to Fiona Bruce. She wasn’t saying that she believed that, she was saying that’s what the other side said.’
Emphasising her defence of Bruce, Reid added: ‘She very clearly says in that clip that she is contextualising it and giving the right of reply. She wasn’t arguing with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I think it’s outrageous that she is being held personally accountable.’
Meanwhile, Balls expressed his view that Refuge could have defended Bruce more in the charity’s statement.
Following the newsreader’s announcement that she would no longer be an ambassador for the organisation, the charity released a statement that read: ‘Refuge’s position was, and remains, clear – domestic abuse is never a “one-off”, it is a pattern of behaviour that can manifest in a number of ways, including but not limited to physical abuse. Domestic abuse is never acceptable.’
The charity spoke to survivors of domestic abuse who explained how ‘devastating’ the wording had been for them, adding: ‘While we know the words were not Fiona’s own and were words she was legally obliged to read out, this does not lessen their impact and we cannot lose sight of that.’
The charity stressed that those words ‘minimised the seriousness of domestic abuse and this has been retraumatising for survivors’, adding that their focus ‘must remain’ on survivors, stating: ‘Every two minutes someone turns to Refuge for help and our priority is the women and their children who need us.’
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV.
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