'I'm so glad I'm no longer there' TalkTV Vanessa Feltz says she would have defied former employer BBC's staff march ban against antisemitism

Monday 27 November 2023

TalkTV's Vanessa Feltz has hit out at her former employer the BBC over its ban on staff attending yesterday’s march against antisemitism.

BBC journalists were allegedly banned by senior managers from attending Sunday's march, being told if they work in news, current affairs or factual journalism or are senior leaders they should not participate.

According to sources, fear circulated in Broadcasting House that disciplinary action would have been imposed if they defied orders.

Speaking to TalkTV's Jeremy Kyle and Nicola Thorp, she spoke about the BBC’s decision to ban employees from taking part in the march.

Jeremy asked: “Does that not show you a fundamental, basic anti-Jewish feeling even there?”

Vanessa said: “I think so, because antisemitism is just racism. If I’d been at the BBC, of course I would have had to go on the march. How could I not go? If I did go I would have been fired, I’m so glad I’m no longer there. 

“I’d been very proud to work at the BBC for just shy of 30 years. How can you say you can’t go on a march against racism?

"Racism is illegal, it’s immoral… how can you say to staff who are sentient beings who must be able to decide what they want to do and where they feel they should be, you cannot go on a march against racism.”

Before leaving to present the weekday drivetime show on Talkradio and TalkTV, Vanessa presented an early morning show on BBC Radio 2 between 2011 to 2022 and hosted the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio London.

She also spoke of the trolling she’s received online: “I’m absolutely shattered by some of the antisemitic, vile racist trolling that I’ve received since. 

“Yesterday I got home I looked at my phone, I should have just thrown it away really, thrown it in a pond or something, I really mean it because messages and pictures of me on the march with messages saying, ‘We see you’ and then ‘unfollow’ and then describing me as human excrement, as a curse.

"Every vile slur, disgusting swear word, horrible thing that you could wish on the worst person on earth.”

She later added: “I felt so terribly sad to be marching in 2023 in the country I love; to say we’re all people because I have celebrated multiculturalism and believed in it and loved it, felt privileged to be here.  

“I love my country, I’ve always felt comfortable and happy and optimistic and in the last few weeks it's a very, very different feeling.”

This interview came after tens of thousands of people gathered on Saturday for the latest demonstration, demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and as the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism organised a rally on Sunday against antisemitism - the largest gathering against antisemitism London had seen since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936.

There were 18 arrests over the course of Saturday for a range of alleged offences, while the start of Sunday’s march saw Tommy Robinson arrested by police after he tried to join marchers.

The weekend's marches followed the Israeli military's announcement that 14 Israelis and three foreign nationals have been released from captivity in Gaza, on the third day of a four-day truce.