David Cameron threatened to “close down” the BBC, one of the Corporation’s most senior journalists has claimed, according to a Telegraph report.
Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, said Mr Cameron made the comments to journalists on the Tory Party’s battle bus ahead of the general election.
Mr Robinson said that he is unsure if the Prime Minister was making a joke or a threat – but claimed it was seen as “yet another bit of pressure” by BBC employees.
Mr Robinson claims that while travelling on the bus, Mr Cameron dismissed a BBC story as “rubbish” before added: “I’m going to close them down after the election.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Robinson said: “What really matters is the impact it has on other people. Some people on the bus regarded it as funny but they generally didn’t work for BBC. The people who did [work for the BBC] regarded it as yet another bit of pressure and a sort of sense of ‘don’t forget who’s boss here’.”
Senior Conservative figures accused the BBC of “left-wing bias” in its coverage of the general election.
Following the May vote, which resulted in a Conservative victory, John Whittingdale was made Culture Secretary and given the responsibility of renegotiating the BBC’s Royal Charter.
Tory sources claimed that Mr Cameron had told Mr Whittingdale to “sort out” the BBC.
Mr Whittingdale has denies those claims and insisted that he does not have a “vendetta” against the Corporation despite previously describing the licence fee as a “poll tax”.
Mr Robinson said that comments “dropped into conversations publicly and privately” by Conservative ministers including Sajid Javid, the former culture secretary, add to the concerns of BBC staff.
However, the BBC journalist, who is currently recovering from surgery to remove a tumour on his lung, said that he does not believe the Tories want to scrap the Corporation.
He said: “The Tory’s attitude and Cameron’s in particular is rather like their attitude to the Church of England. They are delighted it exists and regard it as vital to the fabric of England, but they also find it really annoying.
“I’ve never met a senior Tory who wants to close down the BBC,” he added. “I could be proved wrong … [but] I don’t think the BBC will get closed down.”
Downing Street described the claims as “nonsense”.