THE BBC "regularly" bows to pressure from the UK Government over the wording of its headlines, according to a whistleblower within the corporation.

Emails obtained and published by The Guardian appear to show numerous instances of the BBC being pressured by the UK Government on its political reporting.

In one instance, during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, a senior editor at the BBC requested that correspondents avoided using the word “lockdown” in relation to the mass shutdown ordered by then prime minister Boris Johnson in March 2020.

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It read: “Hi all – D st are asking if we can avoid the word ‘lockdown’.

“I’m told the message will be that they want to keep pushing people to stay at home but they are not talking about enforcement at the moment.”

Reporters argued against this advice but Downing Street’s demands were met as broadcasts and articles on the BBC News website that day referred only to “curbs” and “restrictions” – despite other major news organisations such as Sky already referring to it as a “lockdown”.

Another leaked WhatsApp message shows a senior editor calling on journalists to make their coverage more critical of the Labour Party after receiving a complaint from Downing Street.

The National:

“D St complaining that we’re not reflecting Labour’s mess of plan b online,” it read. “ie Ashworth said it earlier this week, then reversed. Can we turn up the scepticism a bit on this?”

The Tory-run government was arguing that the Labour Party had changed their position on coronavirus restrictions. A line was then added to a BBC News online story to reflect Labour’s alleged change of position.

A BBC insider told The Guardian: “Particularly on the website, our headlines have been determined by calls from Downing Street on a very regular basis.”

They added that the leaked messages highlight only a small amount of the pressure being exerted on reporters, with the majority of it expressed verbally.

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According to the source, managers were scared of losing contacts in the government if they published content that was too critical.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “The BBC makes its own independent editorial decisions and none of these messages show otherwise.

“Like all news organisations, we are frequently contacted by representatives from all political parties.

“Selective out of context messages from a colleagues’ WhatsApp group and email do not give an accurate reflection of the BBC’s editorial decision making.”