Ofcom investigates Sky News over Kay Burley’s comments on Palestinian ambassador

Sky News presenter Kay Burley is facing an Ofcom probe after she claimed the Palestinian ambassador to the UK said “Israel had it coming” when Hamas attacked.

What did Kay Burley say?

On October 10, 2023, Burley was interviewing Pat McFadden, the shadow chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, on her show Breakfast With Kay Burley. She asked him: “Will the shadow foreign secretary [David Lammy] sit with the Palestinian ambassador, appearing with him, at an event, given that the Palestinian ambassador basically said, the last couple of days, that ‘Israel had it coming’?”

She repeated the same question to Stella Creasy, a Labour MP, who said she was not aware of the incident. Burley also asked Foreign Secretary James Cleverly if he would share a platform with the Palestinian ambassador, who he said should condemn Hamas’s actions.

What did the Palestinian ambassador say?

The Palestinian ambassador to the UK is Husam Zomlot, who represents the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), not Hamas. He has condemned the killing of civilians by Hamas but also accused Israel of committing a “war crime” against Palestinians.

kay burley palestinian ambassador ofcom probe

In an interview with CNN on October 7, 2023, Zomlot said: “The loss of civilian life is tragic… [on] all sides and what is happening is extremely worrying and very tragic. As we speak, the loss of [lives], you’ve counted 70 Israeli deaths, there [are] more than 200 Palestinian deaths so far, more than 1600 entire residential compounds are being wiped out. This is a war crime committed by Israel. And what is more tragic or equally tragic is the blindness and the deafness of the world and the international community for so many years of the warnings we have been saying that this was coming. Israel knew that this was coming their way. We the national movement of Palestine, the [Palestine Liberation Organisation], have found a different part 30 years ago, we have committed to what the world asks us; recognise Israel, commit to negotiations of non-violence… Israel was expected to do one thing only, roll back its occupation… It’s a consequence.”

Zomlot did not say “Israel had it coming” in his statement.

How did people react to Kay Burley’s comments?

Burley’s comments sparked outrage and criticism from many viewers and social media users, who accused her of misrepresenting Zomlot’s words and spreading misinformation. Some also called for her to apologise and retract her statement.

Ofcom received more than 1,500 complaints about Burley’s comments and launched an investigation into whether Sky News breached its broadcasting rules on accuracy and impartiality.

Zomlot also responded to Burley’s comments on Twitter, saying: “I never said such a thing @KayBurley. I said Israel knew this was coming their way because they refused to end their illegal occupation & oppression of our people. You owe me & your viewers an apology for this serious misrepresentation.”

What are the possible outcomes of Ofcom’s investigation?

Ofcom has the power to impose sanctions on broadcasters who breach its rules, ranging from issuing a warning or a fine to revoking their licence. However, Ofcom has not yet made a decision on whether Sky News or Burley have breached any rules.

Sky News has not commented on Ofcom’s investigation or Burley’s comments. Burley has also not apologised or retracted her statement.

Will Ofcom find Sky News or Burley guilty of breaching its rules? Will they face any sanctions or consequences? Will Burley ever apologise or correct her statement? These are some of the questions that remain unanswered as Ofcom continues its investigation.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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