THE Tory minister in charge of broadcasting has complained to the BBC over last week’s Panorama investigation into personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages among healthcare workers.

In a furious letter to the BBC director general, Oliver Dowden said viewers “should be able to turn to the BBC for transparent, unimpeachable, reliable news”.

In their report, broadcast last Monday, Panorama said gowns, visors, swabs and body bags were left out of the Government’s stockpile when it was set up in 2009.

However, a number of NHS workers who were interviewed for the programme have since been identified as members or supporters of the Labour party.

In the letter, which was also published by the Mail on Sunday yesterday, Dowden wrote: “Concerns have been raised that a disproportionate number of those interviewed in the programme were political activists or had clear links to a political party.

“This both was not made clear to viewers and does not reflect the balance of views of an institution as large as the NHS,” he wrote.

Dowden says in his letter he is sure Lord Hall “will agree that at a time of heightened risk of misinformation and disinformation, it is more important than ever that the BBC upholds the values and standards we all expect”.

A senior Government source told the paper: “There is a worrying pattern emerging of the BBC not doing its homework and presenting partisan contributors as impartial.

“Viewers need to trust what they see.”

A spokesperson for the BBC confirmed yesterday that it had received Dowden’s letter, and pointed the Tory minister to comments made by Boris Johnson at Thursday’s Downing Street briefing.

Johnson told reporters: “I’m not going to minimise the logistical problems we’ve faced in getting the right protective gear to the right people in the right place, both in the NHS and care homes.”

It’s the latest clash between the Tories and the public broadcaster.

In the run-up to last year’s election, ministers boycotted the Today programme on Radio 4, and there was a row over the Prime Minister’s failure to be interviewed by broadcaster Andrew Neil, while Jackson Carlaw has accused BBC Scotland of ignoring him.