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Metro letters, March 15: Was Fiona Bruce right to quit Refuge?

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What’s on readers’ minds? (Picture: Getty)

We’ve swiftly gone from one BBC presenter’s difficulties to another, as Fiona Bruce has been forced to resign as a patron of charity Refuge.

It comes amid football pundit Gary Lineker’s row with the broadcaster and the government over proposed anti-migrant Channel crossing laws.

Now Ms Bruce of Question Time has landed herself in hot water. She was accused of minimising domestic violence, after an allegation was made against Boris Johnson’s dad on her show, by mentioning that his friends said it was a ‘one-off’.

Read on to see what our contributors are saying about it…

■ Question Time host Fiona Bruce is to step back from her role as ambassador at the Refuge charity over accusations she trivialised domestic violence during a discussion on the show (Metro, Tue).

She was criticised for intervening when Stanley Johnson, the father of former prime minister Boris Johnson, was called a ‘wife-beater’ by panellist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

To ‘contextualise’ the allegation of assault, Bruce only needed to say that Charlotte Johnson had made the allegation that her husband had broken her nose and that he had never denied it.

She didn’t have to mention that friends of Stanley Johnson have said ‘it was a one-off’, she could have just added that they confirmed it – saying ‘it was a one-off’ is minimising a criminal assault. As a patron of Refuge at the time, she should have refused to say that. M Reader, London

Fiona Bruce

Fiona Bruce saying on Question Time that the domestic abuse claim was a ‘one off’ (Picture: BBC)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock (13736233t) Father of former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson STANLEY JOHNSON is seen in Whitehall, Stanley Johnson in Whitehall, London, England, United Kingdom - 24 Jan 2023

The allegation was made against Stanley Johnson (Picture: Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)

■ It’s ridiculous Fiona Bruce feels she has been forced to resign from her Refuge charity role. Stanley Johnson has never admitted, been found guilty of, or charged with being a wife-beater, as far as I am aware. So it remains speculation and an allegation. The panellist stated this as if it was a fact and therefore Bruce’s comments were valid. Paul, London

■ I fear that the only casualty from the Fiona Bruce Twitter storm will be the charity, which has lost a strong champion. Nic, North London

■ I understand that Fiona Bruce had to provide context to what Yasmin Alibhai-Brown had said, and her first two sentences did that. Neither she nor the BBC can pretend that this context required her to mention the opinions of Stanley Johnson’s friends or to suggest it was a ‘one-off’ (as if that matters, even it true).

Like the Gary Lineker debacle, this is another clear case of the BBC’s strong Tory bias. Gary Simmons, London

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■ To Laura, (MetroTalk, Tue), who says those crossing the Channel in small boats ‘have fled war-torn countries such as Syria, Palestine and Ukraine’.

The dominant nationality is Albanian. 
Albania is a safe country and the people coming over from there are not escaping persecution, they’re economic migrants.

If those from a safe country were sent back immediately, there would be more time to check whether other claimants were genuine.

You can’t help but think that radical measures have been forced on the government because simple steps such as deporting people arriving from safe countries have been thwarted by the left. John Daniels, by email

Pro-migrant demonstration in London against government's migration bill

A demo in London on Monday against the government’s proposed immigration bill (Picture: Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker likened the government’s proposed asylum policy to Nazi Germany (Picture: Reuters)

■ If the snowflakes on the right wing could handle a bit of criticism, maybe the Gary Lineker tweet would not have been blown out of all proportion. You do not need to be left-wing to be a snowflake. A Smith, London

■ Regarding Lineker, another incident where sport and politics collided was the Bodyline issue in the Ashes during the 1930s. It was said Harold Larwood bowled at the Australian batsman rather than the wicket. He was dropped from Test teams after an intervention by dominions secretary Jimmy Thomas. Andrew McLuskey, Ashford, Middlesex

‘Change your attitude if you’re belittling mental health issues’

■ Vicki (MetroTalk, Tue) is ‘flummoxed by all these stories’ about people’s mental health suffering because of Covid, saying it shows people ‘can’t cope with life’. That is probably one of the most offensive texts I’ve seen. You don’t know what anyone is going through in their personal life and belittling mental health issues is why people don’t talk. Change your attitude towards mental health immediately. Tom, Lewes

■ In response to Vicki who, referencing the connection between mental health and Covid, commented that ‘the slightest upset leaves people with mental health issues’. Vicki, if you went through the devastating loss that millions experienced then you have the right to comment. Julie, Buckinghamshire

Pandemic isolation

The pandemic was a dark and lonely time for many people (Picture: Getty)

■ I agree with Vicki. We appear to have expunged ‘sadness’ from our lexicon. We are ‘sad’ when a loved one dies and grief is part of life. Yet where I live, I can choose from many grief counsellors.

Yes, some people do need help as, with our more fractured society, we might not have a ‘shoulder to cry on’. But normal grieving is not an illness.

If we stopped using the medical term ‘depression’ for every little setback in life, then maybe we can enjoy what the rest of life has to offer. Ann, Kingston

What you said…

Yesterday, we asked you whether station staff should tackle fare evaders after one reader said that they saw staff turn a blind eye to it.

You said…

  • Yes – the system should be fair for those who do pay for travel – 60%
  • No – it carries the risk of staff being abused or attacked – 40%

And another thing…

■ On the MetroTalk debate about the pros and cons of single life, I’m on my last legs and I believe that if someone prefers being single, it is because their brain is made that way. As such, they do not feel lonely. Mystice, Yorkshire

■ Sir David Attenborough (Metro, Mon) is right when he says we can all do something to save nature in our own country. If we all make an effort, it becomes much bigger when it is multiplied by thousands. Bernie, Liverpool

Start a text with VIEWS followed by your comment, name and where you live to 65700. Standard network charge applies. Or email Helpline for Views, Rush-Hour Crush and Good Deed Feed: 020 3615 0600. Full T&Cs on Metro is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Comments may be edited for reasons of legality, clarity or space.

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