Following an investigation into a journalist’s tweets stating The Queen had died, and then was ill in hospital have been called ‘deeply regrettable’ by the BBC Trust.
On 3rd June, Ahmed Khawaja, a BBC Urdu journalist, tweeted that Her Majesty had been admitted to hospital, graveley ill. She then reported The Queen has died, causing CNN and Bild to also tweet the news.
Khawaja called the incident ‘a silly prank’ shortly after the incident, that happened because she had left her phone at home.
The Crown Chronicles reported on this when the incident occurred, and now the BBC Trust has revealed its findings: the tweets contained “information of a highly sensitive nature and had the potential to cause a great deal of distress in the UK and beyond”.
It said the widespread coverage had been “deeply regrettable” and thatbthe tweets were a “serious breach of the editorial guidelines for conflicts of interest”, breaking the BBC’s rules on use of social media.
The report, released today, said it had been a “grave error of judgement to publish the tweets” and they “profoundly regretted any distress that had been caused”.
THe BBC contradicted Khajawa’s take; her employer said the tweets were sent as Ms Khawaja had witnessed a rehearsal for a ‘category one’ death.
To the BBC, this means the passing of either Her Majesty, Prince Philip, Prince Charles or Prince William.
It appears the journalist had not been informed of the rehearsal, which saw blinds closed around the area and tours of the facility suspended. The newscaster at the time also changes into black, for the sombre announcement.
Khajawa identifies herself on her Twitter account as a ‘BBC broadcast journalist’, but the report said despite this, the tweets “did not amount to the BBC itself publishing information that was wrong”.
It said her connection with the BBC had resulted in the tweets “reaching a far higher number of followers than she would have done otherwise”.
A formal internal disciplinary process and inquiry are ongoing, but it seems the journalists Twitter account has been suspended.
The BBC has since said it was rolling out a refresher training course in the use of social media and editorial values in its overseas languages department, to prevent any similar incident from happening again.
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