Fiona Bruce steps back from charity role after backlash from Stanley Johnson discussion

Fiona Bruce said she will be taking a step back from the charity. Credit: PA

BBC Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce said she will step back from her role as an ambassador for the charity Refuge, following claims she had trivialised domestic violence during a discussion about Stanley Johnson on last Thursday’s show.

The presenter of the BBC politics show faced a social media backlash, after intervening when the 82-year-old father of former prime minister Boris Johnson was talked about, on Thursday night.

In a statement, Ms Bruce said that she was "required to legally contextualise" a response about Mr Johnson and the words are not an expression of her own opinions, adding she would never minimise domestic abuse.

The 58-year-old former newsreader said: "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."

It comes after journalist and panel member Yasmin Alibhai-Brown dubbed the elder Johnson a "wife-beater" and said his alleged history of violence was "on the record".

Ms Bruce interrupted, telling Ms Alibhai-Brown and the audience: "I’m not disputing what you’re 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 but it was a one-off."

Ms Bruce has said she does 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.

The Antiques Roadshow presenter added: "I will continue to be an active supporter, albeit from the sidelines for now."

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