THE BBC’s head of news has defended the broadcaster’s ruling that Emily Maitlis’s Newsnight monologue on Dominic Cummings did not meet due impartiality standards – saying it belonged “more on the op-ed page in a newspaper”.

The Newsnight presenter opened the programme by saying the Prime Minister’s top adviser had “broken the rules”, adding “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot”.

Cummings travelled from London to stay at his parents’ Durham home while sick with Covid—19 at the height of lockdown.

READ MORE: Emily Maitlis: BBC tells off Newsnight over Cummings row opening

Presenting the programme amid growing public anger over the adviser’s actions, which the Prime Minister defended, Maitlis was critical of his journey. Following the broadcast the BBC determined Maitlis’s monologue “did not meet our standards of due impartiality”.

Yesterday during an online Royal Television Society event, BBC head of news Fran Unsworth referenced a Reuters poll which found 30% of the public did not think Cummings had done anything wrong.

She said: “Just because the majority of opinion is on side, and I absolutely accept they were, and that, as I say, was evidenced by the programme, it was the language with which the intro was phrased, which I felt basically belonged more on the op-ed page in a newspaper than it did as the intro to an impartial broadcast programme.”

Unsworth also refuted Maitlis’s claim that Cummings owed his survival in his position to Johnson’s “blind loyalty” – saying “I don’t think we can attribute motivation in that way”.

However, she said: “I just want to say though that I think that Newsnight has had an absolutely brilliant journalistic run over this pandemic, and have really been on the stories.”

Unsworth’s comments came before the BBC released a report revealing it had received 23,674 complaints over the programme.