Desh Ki Baat

UK Govt Defends BBC: MP calls I-T survey ‘a deliberate act of intimidation’

UK Govt Defends BBC, saying that it stands up for Media Freedom

The UK Govt defends BBC during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday and claimed that the broadcaster’s editorial independence is essential. The UK government strongly took the side of BBC after the Indian Income tax department did a survey at BBC’s Indian offices.

Tory MP David Rutley, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), responded to inquiries from both his party and the opposition.

Rutley said, “We stand up for the BBC, we fund the BBC, we think the BBC World Service is vitally important.It has that freedom which we believe is vitally important and that freedom is key. We want to be able to communicate the importance of that with our colleagues…our friends across the world, including the government in India.”

He added that it was important for the national broadcaster to have editorial freedom, and in the UK, the BBC was known for being critical of both prominent parties.

Numerous MPs asked the UK government about the incident in India. MP Jim Shannon of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) remarked, “Let’s be very clear: this was a deliberate act of intimidation following the release of an unflattering documentary about the country’s leader.” While Conservative MP Julian Lewis described the Indian I-T survey as “extremely worrying.”

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Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, on the other hand, said it was particularly worrying that the BBC staff had been forced to stay in their offices overnight and had faced lengthy questioning. “In any democracy, the media must have the ability to criticise and scrutinise political leaders without fear of repercussions, and that clearly applies in this situation,” he added.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first Sikh MP from Britain, also voiced concerns about the Income-Tax survey of the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai. “We in the UK are quite proud of our press freedoms and indeed are accustomed to the BBC and other reputable media outlets for calling to account in a terrible fashion the UK government, its prime minister, and opposition parties,” the British Sikh MP said during a question-and-answer session.

Tanmanjeet added, “That’s why many of us were so concerned that in India, a nation with which we have shared values of democracy and press freedoms, they decided to conduct raids on BBC offices after their airing of a documentary which was critical of the Indian prime minister’s actions.”

Recently Income Tax officials ‘surveyed’ BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai for nearly 60 hours and seized all the phones and laptops of their employees.

The BBC declared it would continue to report without fear or favour following the survey’s conclusion.

The company, which has its headquarters in London, has been accused by the tax authorities of participating in several tax-related irregularities and of employing “dilatory tactics” when conducting the survey.

The Income-Tax department further stated that certain BBC group entities’ income and earnings were “not proportionate” with the scope of their operations in India and that tax had not been paid on several transfers made by those overseas entities.

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Tamkeenat Rose

A hodophiIe shutterbug and I am here to tell you interesting stories backed with proper information.
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