Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

BBC Apologizes after Revealing the Queen Has Opinions

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

BBC Apologizes after Revealing the Queen Has Opinions

Article excerpt

In what is considered a breach of etiquette, a BBC correspondent said that Queen Elizabeth II had once told him she was "pretty upset" about a radical cleric in London.

Succumbing to what appears to have been a disastrous urge to brag about his superimportant connections, a BBC correspondent unexpectedly declared in a radio interview on Tuesday that Queen Elizabeth II had once told him she was "pretty upset" about the presence of a radical Islamist cleric in North London.

It is considered a shocking breach of etiquette to reveal what, if anything, the queen tells you, especially when it comes to political views, which she is technically not supposed to have. The BBC immediately issued an abject apology, saying that the correspondent, Frank Gardner, was completely out of line.

"The conversation should have remained private, and the BBC and Frank deeply regret this breach of confidence," the broadcaster said in a statement. "It was wholly inappropriate. Frank is extremely sorry for the embarrassment caused and has apologized to the palace."

Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on the matter.

The episode occurred on "BBC Today," an influential public- affairs morning radio program. Mr. Gardner, the broadcaster's security correspondent, was speaking about Abu Hamza al-Masri, an Egyptian cleric who settled in Britain and preached violent anti- British jihad at a North London mosque.

The British government has been trying for years to extradite Mr. Masri to the United States, where he is wanted in connection with, among other things, accusations of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. On Monday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the extradition would not violate his human rights, although a British court on Wednesday issued an injunction that at least temporarily prevents any effort to send him to the United States. …

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