BBC Question Time did not hire the son of a producer to say pro-Brexit statements

5 November 2019
What was claimed

BBC Question Time hired the son of a BBC producer to pose as a Brexit and Boris Johnson supporter.

Our verdict

This is incorrect. The man on the show was not Mr Burley’s son, and Burley does not work on Question Time. The claim originated from a spoof account.

The claim that BBC Question Time hired the son of a BBC producer to pose as a Brexit and Boris Johnson supporter has been shared hundreds of times of Facebook. 

This is incorrect. The claim originates with a now-deleted tweet from a spoof account, which said that BBC producer Rob Burley had hired and dressed up a member of the Conservative party to appear “working class” and make comments that were pro-Brexit and pro-Boris Johnson on Question Time. 

Some people seem to have believed the tweet, and the claim then morphed into the accusation that the man was Mr Burley’s son. Burley has denied this and stated that he has no involvement with Question Time (he is the BBC’s editor for live political programmes, which does not include Question Time). The show’s actual current editor is Hilary O’Neil, and the man in the video has identified himself as Layton J Smith. 

A separate Facebook post claiming that the man is an “actor”, with a screenshot of his profile on a casting website, is accurate in the sense that the profile was real (although it has since been deleted). However, the possible implication that Mr Smith’s beliefs are not genuinely held is not borne out by his social media accounts, which appear to be authentic and demonstrate a history of support for Brexit.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.