Campaign group Republic has accused Andrew Marr of misleading viewers with his documentary series looking at the life of the Queen. The group's chief executive Graham Smith has written to the Chair of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, listing a series of “distortions, half-truths and fabrications” that were presented as fact in the three-part Diamond Queen series. Graham Smith has questioned Marr's journalistic integrity given the obvious bias in the programmes that have aired over the past three weeks and has gone on to challenge Marr to an on-air debate about the programme's contents. The letter to Patten says: "What was presented as a piece of biographical journalism was in fact pro-monarchy polemic." "Republican perspectives on the Queen's reign or criticism of her record were almost entirely absent, while controversial and contested opinions about the monarchy's value were presented as fact. On a number of occasions both presenter and interviewees made claims that were patently false." The letter goes on to say that there is now "no meaningful distinction between the corporation and the Buckingham Palace press office", accusing BBC bosses of "misleading viewers, silencing dissenting voices and shielding our head of state from any genuine scrutiny". Republic has called for an investigation into the programme to "determine what editorial and journalistic decisions were taken that led to such a biased piece of broadcasting". It has also called for the role of Royal Liaison Officer, responsible for maintaining good relations with the Palace, to be scrapped. The group has also pledged to begin to stage protests at key BBC locations and events, to highlight this serious issue. Graham Smith said today: "This was not impartial reporting. This was a fawning and frivolous celebration of the royal family, that amounted to little more than propaganda. There was no attempt to scrutinise the monarchy, objectively assess the Queen's record or put the other side of the debate. It's a shame Marr has jettisoned all journalistic integrity, perhaps in the hope of receiving an OBE." "We have identified a long list of factual errors, baseless assertions and biased statements made during the Marr programme. I would challenge Mr Marr to invite me onto his Sunday morning programme to discuss the issues we've raised in our letter to Mr Patten." "The BBC's coverage of the monarchy is becoming ever more sycophantic and distorted as we approach the jubilee. We'll do all we can to ensure the corporation adheres to its legal duty of impartiality, and stops silencing the quarter of the population who believe we'd be better off without the monarchy."
The full letter to Chris Patten can be read at www.republic.org.uk/pattenletter.pdf