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BBC apologises after journalist tweeted queen’s ‘death’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 4, 2015

QEThe BBC has apologised and launched an internal ahmenkhwaja_spinquiry after a tweet sent from the account of one of its producers said Queen Elizabeth II had died, during a test of coverage for a royal death.

The first of a series of tweets was sent from the account of broadcast reporter Ahmen Khawaja around 9:30am (local time), and said: “BREAKING: Queen Elizabeth is being treated at King Edward 7th Hospital in London. Statement due shortly”.

Ms Khawaja then added: “Queen Elizabrth (sic) has died,” according to a screen shot published by British media.

The tweets sparked a storm on social networks and the rumours about the Queen’s health were picked up by numerous international media outlets.

Ms Khawaja, a producer for BBC’s Urdu-language service, apologised immediately for the “false alarm” and deleted the messages, saying: “Phone left unattended at home. Silly prank, Apologies for upsetting anyone!”.

The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence.

BBC statement

The corporation later announced it had launched an investigation as part of its disciplinary process.

“During a technical rehearsal for an obituary, tweets were mistakenly sent from the account of a BBC journalist saying a member of the royal family had been taken ill,” it said.

“The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence.”

Coincidentally, the Queen was in hospital early Wednesday for a check-up, leading Buckingham Palace to send a rare statement on the monarch’s health.

“I can confirm that the queen this morning attended her annual medical check-up at the King Edward VII’s hospital in London,” it said.

“This was a routine, pre-scheduled appointment. The Queen has now left the hospital.”

The head of BBC newsgathering, Jonathan Munro, confirmed the rehearsal in an email to staff on Wednesday, according to the Guardian newspaper.

In the message, he said it was a “low-key rehearsal for the way in which television might cover a category-one obituary”.

“It’s essential that we can rehearse these sensitive scenarios privately,” Mr Munro said, according to the Guardian.

“I’d also ask for your help in refraining from any external conversations and all social media activity about this exercise.”

BBC’s “category-one” is reserved for four senior members of the royal family: the Queen, her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his son Prince William.


© AhmenKhawaja/Twitter

BBC Reporter faces action over Queen Elizabeth Death Tweet

A BBC reporter is to face disciplinary proceedings after a tweet mistakenly claiming that the Queen had died was posted on the internet.

The BBC has apologised for any offence caused by the inaccurate tweet, which was picked up by a number of foreign news outlets, according to reports.

Another tweet wrongly claimed that the Queen was being “treated” in hospital and generated speculation on social media about the state of the monarch’s health.

The tweets were posted on the day the corporation held a technical rehearsal for its future coverage of the Queen’s obituary but the BBC stressed that tweeting was not part of the exercise.

By coincidence, the Queen was at hospital earlier today for her routine annual medical check-up.

Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of confirming the private medical visit after concerns were raised about her wellbeing following the tweets.

Ahmen Khawaja is a journalist with the BBC.

Ahmen Khawaja is a journalist with the BBC.

The messages were posted on Twitter from the account of BBC broadcast journalist Ahmen Khawaja, and it is understood she will now face disciplinary proceedings.

One tweet said: “‘Queen Elizabrth has died (sic).”

Another tweet said: “Breaking: Queen Elizabeth is being treated at King Edward VII Hospital in London. Statement due shortly.”

The journalist later deleted the tweets, apologised for what she described as a “false alarm” and suggested her phone might have been hacked.

Ms Khawaja tweeted: “Phone left unattended at home. Silly prank. Apologies for upsetting anyone!”

It is thought the messages might have been posted on Twitter by someone who thought the BBC’s rehearsal was a real event.

© PAA 2015


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