Laura Kuenssberg

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Laura Kuenssberg
Kuenssberg in 2012
Born
Laura Juliet Kuenssberg

(1976-08-08) 8 August 1976 (age 47)
Rome, Italy
NationalityBritish
EducationLaurel Bank School
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh (MA)
Georgetown University
OccupationJournalist
Notable workBBC News, Newsnight, Brexitcast, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
TitlePolitical editor of BBC News (2015–2022)
SpouseJames Kelly
RelativesJoanna Kuenssberg (sister)
Ekkehard von Kuenssberg (paternal grandfather)
Lord Robertson (maternal grandfather)
Sir James Wilson Robertson (great-uncle)

Laura Juliet Kuenssberg (born 8 August 1976) is a British journalist who presents the BBC's flagship Sunday morning politics show.

She succeeded Nick Robinson as political editor of BBC News in July 2015, and was the first woman to hold the position.[1][2] Kuenssberg stepped down as political editor on 6 May 2022, after reporting on the 2022 United Kingdom local elections.[3] She went on to replace Andrew Marr as the host of the BBC's weekend political interview programme, which started transmission in September 2022, under the name Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.[4]

Kuenssberg had previously served as the BBC's chief political correspondent and was the first business editor of ITV News. She was also the chief correspondent for Newsnight between February 2014 and July 2015.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Kuenssberg was born in Rome, Italy in 1976 to Nick and Sally Kuenssberg.[6][7] She grew up in Glasgow with her brother and sister,[8] and attended Laurel Bank School before going on to study History at the University of Edinburgh, where she graduated with a first-class honours degree and an MA.[9] During her degree she spent a year studying at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she interned at NBC.[10][11]

Her Edinburgh-born father, Nick Kuenssberg, was a businessman, investor, and academic;[12][13] while her mother worked in children's services and received an OBE for this in the 2000 New Year Honours.[14][15] Her paternal grandfather was German-born Ekkehard von Kuenssberg (CBE), a co-founder and president of the Royal College of General Practitioners.[16] Her maternal grandfather was Lord Robertson, a judge of the Scots High Court of Justiciary, whose brother James Wilson Robertson was the last British Governor-General of Nigeria. Her elder brother David was an executive director of finance and resources at Brighton and Hove City Council.[17] Her elder sister Joanna Kuenssberg is a former diplomat who has served as high commissioner to Mozambique.[16]

Career[edit]

Kuenssberg won the regional Royal Television Society "Most Promising Newcomer" award in 2001 while working as home affairs correspondent for BBC North East and Cumbria.[18]

In 2009, she was appointed chief political correspondent for the BBC.[19] Kuenssberg reported for BBC One bulletins, Daily Politics and the BBC News channel. In May 2010, her presence on BBC Television was so ubiquitous in the period between the 2010 United Kingdom general election and the formation of the Cameron–Clegg coalition, that journalist David Aaronovitch coined the term "Kuenssbergovision".[20]

Kuenssberg took up the newly created role of business editor for ITV News. She also contributed towards business reporting on ITV's current affairs strand, Tonight.[21]

On 12 November 2013, it was announced that she would leave ITV to return to the BBC as chief correspondent and a presenter of Newsnight, replacing Gavin Esler in the latter role. She joined the Newsnight team in February 2014.[22][23]

Between the 2017 United Kingdom general election and Brexit in 2020, Kuenssberg also co-presented the BBC's Brexitcast podcast alongside Katya Adler, Adam Fleming, and Chris Mason, which was then retitled as the Newscast podcast.[24][25][26][27][28]

In September 2023, Kuenssberg presented Laura Kuenssberg: State of Chaos; a three-part political documentary series, that aired on BBC2.[29]

BBC political editor[edit]

She was appointed in July 2015 as the BBC's political editor, the first woman to hold the position.[19] In January 2016, Kuenssberg was involved in arranging for the Labour MP Stephen Doughty to publicly announce his resignation as a shadow foreign office minister on Daily Politics. The incident was the subject of an official complaint from Seumas Milne, the Labour Party's director of communications, which was rejected by Robbie Gibb, then the BBC's head of live political programmes.[30]

In December 2016, Kuenssberg said a source had told her that the Queen had made comments supportive of leaving the European Union during a private lunch at Windsor Castle. She initially decided not to report the comments because the BBC generally requires a story to have two sources before it can run.[31]

During a joint press conference with the prime minister Theresa May and Donald Trump, then president of the United States, Kuenssberg recalled a number of controversial statements Trump made about his proposed travel ban during the 2016 United States presidential election, and asked Trump if he had anything to say to British viewers "worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?" Trump responded, "That's your choice of a question?" He then remarked to May: "There goes that relationship."[32]

In March 2019, Kuenssberg presented a documentary, The Brexit Storm: Laura Kuenssberg's Inside Story, for BBC Two.[33] Her role in the reporting of Brexit negotiations was the subject of an article in The Times Magazine of 30 March 2019.[34]

On 11 December 2019, while reporting on the 2019 United Kingdom general election, she was accused of breaking electoral law by stating that postal ballots painted a “grim” picture for Labour. Kuenssberg told viewers on Wednesday that while parties were not supposed to look at voting papers when they were verified – but not counted – at opening sessions, they did “get a hint” of how they were doing and it was not looking good for Labour. [35] The BBC denied that any law had been broken, and she was eventually cleared,[36] despite claims that the Representation of the People Act 1983 had been broken, as it lays out that “no person shall, in the case of an election to which this section applies, publish before the poll is closed […] any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or b) any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.”

On 17 December 2019, she presented a second documentary film, The Brexit Storm Continues: Laura Kuenssberg's Inside Story, which covered Boris Johnson's arrival at 10 Downing Street through to the 2019 general election.[37]

On 20 December 2021, Kuenssberg announced that she would be stepping down as political editor, effective in the spring of 2022, to take "a senior presenting and reporting role" at the BBC. The Guardian reported that she was in talks to become a presenter on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.[38] It was suggested that Jon Sopel could take over the role of political editor in her place, leaving his role as the BBC's North America editor, but in February 2022 he left the BBC to join LBC. In the event Chris Mason was announced to be the next BBC political editor.

In March 2022, it was announced that Kuenssberg would be replacing Andrew Marr, in a full-time role, as the host of BBC One's flagship Sunday morning politics show, starting in September 2022.[39][40]

Criticism[edit]

Following the 2016 local elections, a petition was started on 38 Degrees which accused Kuenssberg of being biased against the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn, calling for her dismissal.[41] The petition was later withdrawn by David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, who suggested it had become a "focal point for sexist and hateful abuse made towards Laura Kuenssberg" on other social media websites such as Twitter although it was acknowledged that this represented "the actions of a small minority".[42][43]

In January 2017, the BBC Trust ruled that a report in November 2015 by Kuenssberg broke the broadcaster's impartiality and accuracy guidelines. A viewer had complained about her item, which featured an interview with Corbyn on the BBC News at Six which gave the incorrect impression that Corbyn disagreed with the use of firearms by police in incidents such as that month's terrorist attacks in Paris. His purported answer to a question as broadcast in the report was in fact his reply to a more general question (not broadcast), and not specifically about that terrorist attack.[44] The BBC Trust said that the inaccuracy was "compounded" when Kuenssberg went on to state that Corbyn's message "couldn't be more different" from that of May, who was about to publish anti-terrorism proposals. The trust said that accuracy was particularly important when dealing "with a critical question at a time of extreme national concern."[44] Nevertheless, the BBC Trust found no evidence that there had been any intention to mislead, and their ruling was that the footage "had been compiled in good faith."[45] The Daily Telegraph published a story about Kuenssberg in 2017 with the headline "the most divisive woman on TV today?" printed on the front-page.[7][46]

In September 2019, Kuenssberg received criticism for her portrayal of Omar Salem, a father who confronted the prime minister, Boris Johnson, about the government's treatment of the NHS, as "a Labour activist."[47] Salem defended Kuenssberg, saying that she was doing her job "without fear or favour which is a vital part of democracy. I don't think 'Labour activist cares about NHS' is a huge scoop though...".[48]

On 11 December 2019, the day before the General Election, she drew controversy by claiming on air that submitted postal votes, apparently viewed by both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, were "looking pretty grim for Labour in a lot of parts of the country".[49][50] Viewing postal votes prior to polling day is in breach of guidelines set by the Electoral Commission[51] and predicting electoral outcomes based on votes cast prior to polls closing may be a criminal offence.[52][53] The footage was subsequently withdrawn from BBC iPlayer, while the episode of Politics Live in which the incident happened was withdrawn and removed from the BBC Parliament schedule.[54] The BBC News press office tweeted: "Regarding today's Politics Live programme, the BBC does not believe it, or its political editor, has breached electoral law."[55] The Metropolitan Police later confirmed that there was "no evidence of any criminal offences having been committed."[56]

Kuenssberg was criticised, alongside other major journalists, for incorrectly tweeting that a Labour activist had punched a Conservative Party advisor, without verification; footage was released showing this was untrue and she later apologised and retracted her tweet.[57] On 3 March 2020, however, the BBC's Executive Complaints Unit stated that "It found no evidence of political bias nor that Laura Kuenssberg had failed to check the story before publication." In her apology, Kuenssberg noted that two sources had told her the story was true, and she hence decided to publish it.[58]

In May 2020, as the Dominic Cummings scandal broke, Kuenssberg tweeted several statements from an anonymous source close to Cummings about the nature of his trip. In one tweet, she contradicted Pippa Crerar, one of the journalists who broke the story, with information from a "source" which argued that the trip was not illegal. Many suspected that the anonymous source was Cummings himself, which led to allegations that Kuenssberg was defending, or at least uncritically repeating, his side of the story. This led to a significant volume of complaints to the BBC, who defended Kuenssberg's actions.[59][60] In May 2021, Dominic Cummings confirmed to a Parliamentary committee that he "set the record straight" with briefings to Kuenssberg.[61]

An interview with Boris Johnson in July 2020 led to over 100 complaints against Kuenssberg being submitted to the BBC alleging that she had overly interrupted Johnson and was displaying bias against the government. The BBC defended Kuenssberg, stating that she had conducted the interview in a 'thorough, firm but fair manner.'[62]

In November 2020, some economists criticised Kuenssberg's assessment of Rishi Sunak's economic statement, suggesting she lacked understanding of economics. The BBC defended Kuenssberg, stating that she was summarising the position of the Chancellor and that its economics editor, Faisal Islam, had then given the opposite position.[63]

Bodyguard[edit]

In a July 2017 Spectator article, Charles Moore wrote of being told "informally" that Kuenssberg had received protection by a bodyguard during the 2017 general election. The BBC had believed her safety was under threat because of online abuse considered to be mainly from supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.[64][65] The BBC refused to comment about the story. The Labour politician Yvette Cooper defended the BBC's political editor: "It's her job to ask difficult questions. It's her job to be sceptical about everything we say". By the end of the campaign, Kuenssberg was also being abused by some Conservative and UKIP supporters.[65][66]

At both the Conservative and Labour Party conferences in 2017, Kuenssberg was accompanied by a security guard.[67] Journalist Jenni Russell, a former BBC editor herself, was quoted in The New York Times about the issue affecting Kuenssberg: "The graphic level of threats to women is quite extraordinary and it's one of the worst things to have happened in recent British public life."[68][69]

At a November 2017 gathering in London, Kuenssberg said that internet trolls were attempting to silence her.[70]

Awards[edit]

In November 2016, Kuenssberg was awarded Broadcaster of the Year by the Political Studies Association. The prize was in recognition of her contribution to the public understanding of politics, especially surrounding the June 2016 EU Referendum and subsequent developments.[71]

At the British Journalism Awards organised by Press Gazette in December 2016, Kuenssberg received the Journalist of the Year award.[72] "Kuenssberg deserves this prize for the sheer volume and scope of reporting on some of the biggest changes ever in British politics" said the judges, pointing especially to her coverage of the EU membership referendum and its aftermath.[73]

Kuenssberg was named in the Evening Standard's 2019 list of the top 20 'most influential Londoners'.[74]

Personal life[edit]

Kuenssberg is married to James Kelly, a management consultant.[16] They formerly lived in Mile End, east London.[75]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC names Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor". BBC News. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  2. ^ Plunkett, John (22 July 2015). "Laura Kuenssberg confirmed as the BBC's first female political editor". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  3. ^ Laura Kuenssberg to step down as BBC's political editor BBC
  4. ^ ""It's Always Brutal At The End": Broadcaster Laura Kuenssberg On Boris, Internet Bullies, And Landing Her Biggest Gig To Date". British Vogue. 23 August 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg Steps Down As Political Editor At BBC News". HuffPost UK. 20 December 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  6. ^ McDermott, Kerry (23 August 2022). ""It's Always Brutal At The End": Broadcaster Laura Kuenssberg Talks Boris's Downfall, Internet Bullies, And Landing Her Biggest Gig To Date". British Vogue. Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  7. ^ a b Saner, Emine (29 September 2017). "Laura Kuenssberg: BBC titan who would 'die in a ditch for impartiality'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Nick Kuenssberg". Frost's Scottish Who's Who. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  9. ^ Mclellan, John (6 October 2016). "Is the art of flyting still in rude health?". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg: BBC appoints first female political editor". The Week. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  11. ^ Saner, Emine (29 September 2017). "Laura Kuenssberg: BBC titan who would 'die in a ditch for impartiality'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  12. ^ Nick Kuenssberg profile, rcs.ac.uk. Accessed 25 July 2023.
  13. ^ Obituaries, Telegraph (9 October 2023). "Nick Kuenssberg, business leader in Scotland and father of the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg – obituary". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  14. ^ "Sally Kuenssberg, CBE". BBC Scotland. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  15. ^ Dorsey, Kristy (4 March 2013). "Business interview: Nick Kuenssberg". The Scotsman. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  16. ^ a b c Turner, Janice (30 March 2019). "How political editor Laura Kuenssberg broke the mould to become the BBC's Brexit guru". The Times.(subscription required)
  17. ^ "Meet the council's new finance boss – and his famous sister". The Argus. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Royal Television Society – RTS in your area". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006.
  19. ^ a b "Laura Kuenssberg has been appointed the BBC's new Political Editor". BBC. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  20. ^ Aaronovitch, David (13 May 2010). "New Politics is here. Now let's have new votes". The Times. London. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  21. ^ "ITV announces Laura Kuenssberg as Business Editor". London: ITN. 22 June 2011. Archived from the original on 25 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  22. ^ Kuenssberg, Laura (11 November 2009). "Is Labour facing Glasgow upset?". BBC News.
  23. ^ Plunkett, John (13 November 2013). "BBC Newsnight recruits ITV's Laura Kuenssberg". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  24. ^ "Brexitcast to end as UK departs EU this month". RadioToday. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Electioncast". BBC. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  26. ^ "BBC One: Brexitcast". BBC. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  27. ^ "BBC News: Newscast". BBC. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  28. ^ "BBC One: The Coronavirus Newscast". BBC. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  29. ^ "BBC Two confirms three-part documentary series, Laura Kuenssberg: State of Chaos". bbc.com/mediacentre. 30 August 2023. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  30. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Sweney, Mark (8 January 2016). "BBC justifies decision to allow Stephen Doughty to resign live on Daily Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  31. ^ Mason, Rowena (26 December 2016). "Laura Kuenssberg says source told her the Queen backed Brexit". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  32. ^ Watts, Joe (29 January 2017). "Donald Trump says 'there goes that relationship' when asked a difficult question in press conference with Theresa May". The Independent. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  33. ^ Power, Ed (1 April 2019). "The Brexit Storm: Laura Kuenssberg's Inside Story, review: a compelling refresher course that made its topic seem fresh". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  34. ^ The Times Magazine; 30 March 2019, pp. 18–23
  35. ^ Waterson, Jim (11 December 2019). "BBC denies Laura Kuenssberg's postal vote comments broke law". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  36. ^ Rogers, Tom (4 March 2020). "Met Police clear Laura Kuenssberg of electoral crime after she revealed postal vote information during December". Evolve Politics. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  37. ^ McKay, Alastair (17 December 2019). "The Brexit Storm Continues: Revelations are few in Laura Kuenssberg's Inside Story". Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  38. ^ Waterson, Jim (20 December 2021). "Laura Kuenssberg to step down as BBC political editor at Easter". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  39. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg to replace Andrew Marr full-time". BBC News. 28 March 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  40. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg to take over BBC's Sunday morning politics show". The Guardian. 28 March 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  41. ^ Jackson, Jasper (10 May 2016). "Campaign to sack BBC's Laura Kuenssberg accused of sexism". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  42. ^ Jackson, Jasper (10 May 2016). "Laura Kuenssberg petition taken down over sexist abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  43. ^ Babbs, David (11 May 2016). "We took down the Laura Kuenssberg petition to show sexist bullies can't win". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  44. ^ a b Martinson, Jane (18 January 2017). "BBC Trust says Laura Kuenssberg report on Corbyn was inaccurate". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  45. ^ "Editorial Standards Findings Appeals to the Trust and other editorial issues considered by the Editorial Standards Committee" (PDF). Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  46. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg: the most divisive woman on TV today?". The Daily Telegraph. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  47. ^ "Furious backlash against BBC over tweet about father of sick child". 18 September 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  48. ^ "BBC defends Laura Kuenssberg over tweet about father who criticised Boris Johnson in hospital". 19 September 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  49. ^ "Why the BBC needs a social media overhaul". New Statesman. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  50. ^ "Election watchdog's warning after Kuenssberg's postal vote comments". Evening Standard. 11 December 2019.
  51. ^ Part D – Absent voting; UK Parliamentary elections in Great Britain: guidance for (Acting) Returning Officers (PDF) (Report). Electoral Commission. November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  52. ^ Gregory, Andy (11 December 2019). "BBC's Laura Kuenssberg may have broken electoral law by speculating about postal votes, Electoral Commission indicates". The Independent. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  53. ^ "Representation of the People Act 1983". legislation.gov.uk.
  54. ^ "BBC Two – Politics Live, 11/12/2019". BBC.
  55. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg may have broken electoral law by speculating about postal votes, Electoral Commission indicates". The Independent. 11 December 2019.
  56. ^ "Met Police clear Laura Kuenssberg, 04/03/2020". Evolve Politics. 4 March 2020.
  57. ^ "Laura Kuenssberg under fire for 'punch' claim". talkradio.co.uk. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  58. ^ "Tweet by Laura Kuenssberg 9 December 2019". BBC. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  59. ^ "BBC backs Laura Kuenssberg over tweet 'defending' Dominic Cummings". 27 May 2020.
  60. ^ "Backlash as Laura Kuenssberg jumps to Dominic Cummings's defence".
  61. ^ Diver, Tony (26 May 2021). "'Unauthorised' chats with Laura Kuenssberg were my way of setting record straight, claims Dominic Cummings". The Telegraph.
  62. ^ "BBC News, 24 July 2020".
  63. ^ "BBC accused of 'economic illiteracy and pushing need for Tory austerity'". The National. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  64. ^ "BBC's Laura Kuenssberg was 'given a bodyguard' during general election campaign". The Telegraph. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  65. ^ a b Simpson, Fiona (14 July 2017). "BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg 'given a bodyguard' after abuse by online trolls during election campaign". Evening Standard. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  66. ^ Roberts, Rachel (14 July 2017). "BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg 'given bodyguard' following online threats". The Independent. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  67. ^ Fisher, Lucy (25 September 2017). "BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg gets bodyguards". The Times. Retrieved 25 September 2017. (subscription required)
  68. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (27 September 2017). "Why the BBC's Star Political Reporter Now Needs a Bodyguard". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  69. ^ "BBC's Laura Kuenssberg to get bodyguard at Tory party conference". Yahoo News. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  70. ^ Doherty, Rosa (1 November 2017). "'They are trying to silence me': BBC's Laura Kuenssberg on the trolls who attack her". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  71. ^ "Broadcaster of the Year 2016 – Political Studies Association". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  72. ^ "BBC's Laura Kuenssberg named journalist of the year". BBC News. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  73. ^ Gayle, Damien (7 December 2016). "Guardian scoops three prizes at British Journalism Awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  74. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (3 October 2019). "Laura Kuenssberg and Edward Enninful make top 20 'most influential Londoners' list". Press Gazette. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  75. ^ Urwin, Rosamund (27 August 2022). "Laura Kuenssberg: 'I've never been told what to say or not to say'". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 27 August 2022.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
None
Business Editor: ITV News
2011–2013
Succeeded by
Joel Hills
Preceded by Chief Political Correspondent: BBC News
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by Political Editor: BBC News
2015–2022
Succeeded by