We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

File image from 2019 of Fiona Bruce arriving to present her first recording of Question Time. Alamy Stock Photo
Question Time

BBC's Fiona Bruce steps back from domestic violence charity after Stanley Johnson remark

It follows claims she trivialised domestic violence during a discussion about Boris Johnson’s father Stanley on a BBC politics show.

BBC PRESENTER FIONA Bruce has stepped back as an ambassador of domestic abuse charity Refuge following claims she had trivialised domestic violence during a discussion about Boris Johnson’s father Stanley on Question Time.

The presenter of the BBC politics show faced a social media backlash after intervening when the father of the former British prime minister was discussed on Thursday night.

Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown described Stanley Johnson as a “wife-beater” on the programme. 

Question Time host Fiona Bruce then interjected and said: “Let me just intervene, I’m not disputing what you are saying, but just so everyone knows what this is referring to…

“Stanley Johnson’s wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and that she’d ended up in hospital as a result.

“Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen, it was a one-off.”

Women’s Aid criticised Bruce’s comments and said her response was “unnecessary and irresponsible”.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, added: “We are particularly surprised to hear this comment from Fiona Bruce, who has previously campaigned against domestic abuse with us at Women’s Aid and other domestic abuse charities, and has spoken publicly about her friend’s experience of abuse.

“Question Time is a flagship BBC programme and carries with it authority over the narrative.

“The narrative that domestic abuse can be dismissed as a one-off is harmful, and influences how seriously the public take domestic abuse.”

In a statement given to the PA news agency, Bruce said that she was “required to legally contextualise” a response about Stanley Johnson and the words are not an expression of her own opinions and she would never minimise domestic abuse.

The 58-year-old former newsreader added: “I know survivors of domestic abuse have been distressed by what I was required to say on-air. For that, I am deeply sorry.

“I cannot change what I was required to say, but I can apologise for the very real impact that I can see it has had.

“I have been a passionate advocate and campaigner for all survivors of domestic abuse, and have used my privileged position as a woman in the public eye to bring this issue to the fore, notably in my work for over 25 years with Refuge.

“But following the events of last week, I have faced a social media storm, much of which mischaracterised what I said and took the form of personal abuse directed at me.

“The only people that matter in all this are the survivors, they are my priority.”

She also said she did not want the issue to create a “distraction” for Refuge and it has been a “hard decision” to pause her work with the charity as she feels “so strongly” about tackling domestic abuse.

Bruce, who is also an Antiques Roadshow presenter, added: “I will continue to be an active supporter, albeit from the side-lines for now.”

-With additional reporting from Diarmuid Pepper

Press Association
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel