Marie-Louise Connolly is a BBC NI Health Correspondent who, as we wrote about previously, acts as a megaphone for the Northern Ireland Department of Health in helping them propagate their narrative around Covid-19. In return, she gets handed exclusives from David Gordon – the DoH spin doctor.
This ‘pay to play’ didn’t go unnoticed on social media as many began to register concerns with Connolly directly, then to deaf ears at the BBC and then to us as people reached out looking for assistance. Up to now, bar writing about her ties to the DoH we had no interest in pursuing the matter personally. We put our information into the public domain and people can do what they wish with it.
Recently, however, Connolly would tweet the news that <40s in Northern Ireland would be offered an alternative to the Astra-Zeneca vaccine due to blood-clotting concerns.
A mother by the name of Judith Park would respond in a fearful tone speaking of her 2 young kids and her worry about taking the 2nd dose of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Connolly would break with her role as a journalist and instead offer medical advice telling the young mother to go ahead and take it.
It is our view that this advice should not be given by a journalist but rather Connolly should have directed the lady to a medical professional where her concerns would be addressed appropriately and by those best able to give medical evidence.
This is just one example of the growing boldness and arrogance coming to the fore in this reporter only this time we grew concerned at her offering medical advice to a worried young mother. We were then contacted by others who had decided to gather online signatures of all those who too were appalled with aspects of Marie-Louise Connolly’s divergence from journalist to medic and how the BBC was allowing this to go on, unabated.
The complaint letter author’s concerns were relating to Connolly calling for the vaccination of “young ones” (0-19-year-olds) as well as offering medical advice to Judith Park. We fully endorsed the principle of the letter and supported the points it raised.
‘Young Ones are those under 59’
Before the above complaint letter was drafted, we had received many emails of concern from members of the public who were appalled at the same issues entered around Connolly. Some of whom had complained to the BBC and received the same generic response,
Our correspondent suggested that the relative prevalence of Covid-19 in younger age cohorts underscored the importance/likely benefits of the continued roll-out of the government’s vaccination programme, including for ‘young ones’, meaning those aged under 59yrs.Kevin Kelly – Editor Newsgathering (BBCNI)
The above was in response to a complaint about Connolly calling for those <19 to be vaccinated.
The clear inference in this tweet is that by “young ones” she was referring to the 0-19 age group. When the BBC were complained to about this they responded by saying that ‘young ones means those aged under 59.’
We would also like the BBC to clarify their statement regarding their definition of “young ones” being those “aged under 59yrs”. Who decided upon this definition and what other examples can you cite of the BBC or any other media outlet referring to “young ones” as people “under 59”?
We have since been reliably told by someone with insight into the BBC-NI complaint process that the response from Kelly was likely written by Connolly herself and signed off by him. Either way, attempting to suggest that a reporter referring to “young ones” was actually referring to those under 59 years old is a dreadful attempt at damage limitation which, to be frank, screams – ASS-COVERING EXERCISE!
However, in their response to the mass-signature complaint, the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit did not attempt to justify the <59 statement and instead ignored it only saying:
In the context of the previous tweet this could be understood to refer to the category of 0-19, but it would not necessarily have been intended to refer to the lowest age groups; ie children.Jeremy Hayes – Complaints Director
So it’s very clear the Executive Complaints Unit did not share the excuse from the Connolly written, Kelly signed, response that she was referring to <59s when speaking of “young ones”. Desperate people tend to do desperate things.
Connolly the Medical Advisor
The Executive Complaints Unit were also asked to explain why Connolly felt compelled, and indeed qualified, to give medical advice to a concerned parent on Twitter.
A young lady in the thread (under 40 years old) who has had the first Astra Zeneca vaccine is clearly distressed about this news. Your correspondent then proceeds to give her the advice that she should “go ahead and get second dose!!”. We believe that a BBC journalist should not be giving medical advice to people on social media – this should be between an individual and their medical professional, especially when that vaccine is no longer recommended for the age group that the individual falls into.
Given the above behaviour on social media (both of these examples are from Twitter), we would like to complain in the strongest possible terms that your correspondent has behaved in an unprofessional manner, cheerleading vaccination of children and publicly offering medical advice to those who are clearly distressed and should in fact be directed to a qualified medical practitioner.
Rather than address the concern they just ignored it and closed the complaint down.
“There’s no provisions for further appeal against this decision within the BBC.”Jeremy Haynes – Complaints Director
The BBC investigates itself and determines what it feels is right or wrong about its reporting. It also reserves the right to decide what it will or won’t respond to in a complaint. This public-funded organisation should be accountable to the people who fund it. As this report shows, that’s not how they operate.
Between Kevin Kelly and Marie-Louise Connolly, they attempted to distort Connolly’s tweet calling for 0-19-year-olds to be vaccinated and in doing so came up with a shocking excuse that she was referring to <59s. That in itself tells you the type of underhanded activity that goes on in this self-regulating, publicly funded organisation. Then when the top office for complaints is asked to explain this they just ignore your request and close down the complaint.
It’s time to defund the BBC and it’s time complaints directed at the organisation are handled externally by people who do no have a vested interest.
Defund the BBC
If you want to stop the BBC pushing disinformation and propaganda then defund it. Stop paying your TV licence fee! See this thread on how to do that legally.