Image shared on social media doesn’t show BBC journalist pretending to be on the frontline of war in Ukraine

7 October 2022
What was claimed

An image shows a BBC journalist as he “pretends to be on the frontline” of the war in Ukraine, with a woman standing casually behind him.

Our verdict

This image shows just one moment from the BBC’s coverage of the war in Ukraine. The full video shows Russian shelling and Ukrainian citizens fleeing, and this BBC report has been corroborated by other media outlets.

A Facebook post claiming to show an image of a BBC journalist speaking to camera as he “pretends to be on the frontline” of the war in Ukraine has been shared thousands of times. 

The post highlights a woman standing in the background of the image, holding a large bag and watching the journalist “seemingly bemused”—implying that the BBC has broadcast footage which greatly exaggerated the situation in Ukraine. 

The image itself is a screenshot of a BBC news report, broadcast on 6 March, two weeks after war broke out in Ukraine, in which BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen reports from the city of Irpin, close to the capital of Kyiv. 

Presented without context, it gives a misleading impression of the situation in Ukraine. 

The full BBC report shows residents fleeing with bags of their belongings, and features images of people killed by Russian attacks on the city. Very loud explosions can be heard during parts of the report, alongside footage of the shelling. 

The woman highlighted in the Facebook post can even be seen in the video crouching behind what looks like a piece of debris next to a destroyed bridge, before standing up to look in Mr Bowen’s direction and then walking towards the camera. 

Mr Bowen has addressed the claims made in the social media posts himself, writing on Twitter: “This malicious tweet and others like it allege that I faked a piece to camera in Ukraine in March. The allegations are utterly false, #fakenews. 

“Insult me if you want. Don’t insult thousands of civilians fleeing over Irpin bridge into Kyiv from Russian shelling and war crimes.”

The news agency AP has corroborated Mr Bowen’s reporting, stating in an article that their journalists had captured similar images to those used in the BBC report. 

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