BBC criticised for being uncritical of UK anti-immigration pressure group

The Migration Matters Trust, a UK group founded by parliamentarians to encourage an open and honest debate about immigration in the UK, has criticised the BBC for accepting statistics presented by an anti-immigration organisation without question. p>

Migration Matters has written to the BBC complaining about the prominence that it gives to figures produced by Migrationwatch UK. The Migration Matters letter complains 'Migrationwatch UK are not an independent thinktank or academic body but a lobbying and campaigning organisation'.

Migration Matters complains that Migrationwatch's stated objective is 'to control the number of non-EU migrants who are given the right to settle permanently in the United Kingdom' but the organisation is treated by the BBC as 'neutral analysts of UK migration'.

Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said that their research has 'a track record of accuracy which is now widely acknowledged' but accepted that its aim was 'to see a reduction in current levels of migration'. He said that this goal was 'supported by 70% of the public'.

250,000 people to come to UK in five years

Migrationwatch UK has recently predicted that 50,000 people will come from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK each year once EU controls on free movement for nationals of these Countries ends after 31 December 2013. Bulgarians and Romanians can already work in the UK on a self-employed basis, on a work permit, under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme or in some cases under low skilled work visa schemes. From January 2014, the transitional controls on Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK will be lifted and nationals of these Countries will no longer have to apply under the above visa schemes. Migrationwatch UK has said that 250,000 people will come to the UK in the five years to 2019.

The UK government has said that it has estimated the number of people who are likely to come to the UK from the two countries but has refused to reveal what its figure is. George Eaton, a New Statesman journalist, launched a Freedom of Information Act request to force the government to reveal the figure but the government has asked for more time to consider whether it is in the public interest to reveal the figure.

Sanwar Ali of workpermit.com said 'It is perhaps unsurprising that the BBC seems to accept Migrationwatch figures uncritically given the fact that there is no other organisation that I know of that has released an alternative estimate. However, I think that Migration Matters is right to say that, given the fact that Migrationwatch has an anti-immigration agenda, the BBC should warn its viewers to treat those figures with caution.

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