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MP accuses BBC of fuelling racist attacks on Poles with 'biased' news coverage


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MP accuses BBC of fuelling racist attacks on Poles with 'biased' news coverage


By Matthew Hickley

Last updated at 3:44 PM on 04th June 2008

article-1024200-03849A090000044D-806_233x423.jpg Conservative MP Danny Kawczynski has accused the BBC of fuelling racist attacks on Poles


The BBC's 'Liberal elite' is fuelling racist attacks on Poles by focusing on them in news coverage as 'white' immigrants while ignoring other groups from around the world, an MP claimed yesterday.

Conservative MP Danny Kawczynski - himself of Polish descent - accused the BBC of picking on Poles for reasons of political correctness, as it was more palatable to highlight 'white Christian' immigrants than far larger numbers arriving from Africa, India and elsewhere.

Mr Kawczyinski told the Commons the corporation's distorted news coverage was fuelling race-hate crimes against Poles, and said he was 'appalled' by the failure of the Equality and Human Rights Commission watchdog to take action.

The BBC hit back last night, rejecting the criticism out of hand and accusing the MP of failing to back up his 'serious allegations' with evidence.

Mr Kawczyinski's criticism in the House of Commons came as he introduced a Bill calling for a bank holiday to mark the positive contribution Poles have made to the UK since 1940 - when Polish pilots shot down more than 600 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain.

He said: 'The liberal elite of the BBC constantly refer to immigration from Poland because they are using the Polish community as a cat's paw to try to tackle the thorny issue of mass unchecked immigration into our country.

'They realise that immigration needs to be discussed, and that it has become uncontrolled under a Labour Government.

'But they don't dare refer to controversial immigration from other parts - always referring repeatedly to Polish immigration.'

The MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham said he was 'appalled' at Sir Trevor Phillips, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, for failing to stand up for Poles.

'If this was being done to a black or other ethnic minority group, it would simply not be tolerated, and I expect and demand that the commission for racial equality also focuses on white ethnic minorities in this country so that nobody is penalised and nobody is made to feel like a scapegoat.'

article-1024200-00FE493A00000578-961_233x232.jpg BBC bosses have denied Mr Kawczyinski's allegations


Mr Kawczyinski claimed there were 'many cases' of increased violence towards Poles in Britain, and said he was convinced they were 'a result of the media coverage by the BBC'.

He pointed out that nine out of 10 immigrants to Britain were not eastern European.

The BBC said in a statement that the MP had produced no evidence to back up his 'serious allegations', adding: 'The picture he paints is not one we recognise.

'To say that the BBC doesn't run stories about other immigrant groups and simply concentrates on the Poles is not true.

'For instance, recently there has been coverage of other Eastern European migrant workers in the fruit picking industry and a report on the routes taken by immigrants from West Africa into Europe and the UK.

'There has also been extensive coverage of the concerns, lifestyles and cultures of the African, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. However, Polish nationals make up one of the largest group of recently arrived legal immigrants into the UK and our coverage reflects this.

'Our coverage of Polish immigrants aims to be fair, accurate and balanced, as with our coverage of all immigrant communities.'

Poles and other eastern European immigrants make up only around eight per cent of the two million immigrants who settled in Britain between 1991 and 2006, official figures show, with far greater numbers arriving from third world countries in Africa and India.

However the influx of Polish workers has been extremely large since 2004, when it was among 10 new states joining the EU, and its citizens gained the right to work and live in the UK.

More than a million eastern Europeans are thought to have come to Britain in the past four years, more than half of them from Poland, and according to the Office for National Statistics Poland has since overtaken India to become the most common citizenship of immigrants to Britain.

The pace of immigration has led to significant strains on public services in some areas, particularly schools, and critics have blamed the Government for massively underestimating the scale of the influx prior to 2004.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the nationality of crime victims was not recorded, but claimed there was no 'anecdotal evidence' of Poles being targeted.

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