Lord Andrew Adonis has criticised Newsnight over the ‘VicarGate’ incident, in which a panellist in a Brexit debate was revealed to be an actor.
Lynn Hayter, who calls herself a pastor and according to her social media accounts follows the teachings of a controversial branch of US evangelical Christianity, appeared on Newsnight and expressed support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal - but her appearance was not arranged by her agent.
Her profile on several acting websites was found by Twitter users, who discussed the fact that she does film and TV work under the name Marina Hayter.
Newsnight refuted the claims that she she was hired as an actor, and said her appearance on the programme was not related to her work.
“Claims that Lynn appeared on #newsnight as a paid actor are false,” said a statement on Newsnight’s Twitter.
“Lynn is a pastor and was a genuine participant of our Brexit debate.
She carries out work as an extra using her middle name but this is not relevant to the capacity in which she appeared. #VicarGate.”
'I'm the Pope'
Lord Adonis posted several tweets poking fun at the incident, and criticising the BBC for choosing her as a panellist.
“I wish henceforth to be known as the Right Reverend Bishop of Erehwon, a famous city celebrated in a Victorian novel - & be allowed onto Newsnight & the Today Programme every time they debate Brexit, to represent my Religion: the Church of Unicorns for Brexit,” he wrote.
He then asked: “Is it true that @BBCNewsnight engaged actors to put the Leave argument in a recent studio discussion because they wanted the Leave case put more strongly?” prompting Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis to tell him to stop “peddling fake news”.
“Andrew - don't become a peddler of fake news,” she wrote.
“Not in this day and age. Not when we need our parliamentarians to be better and more trusted than ever.
“To have got to a place where you could chose to believe that enough to write it - is deeply worrying.”
Lynn Hayter. Image: BBC
Newsnight replied to his question with their earlier statement denying that Ms Hayter was hired in an acting capacity.
Undeterred, Lord Adonis replied: “This must be an actor pretending to be Emily Maitlis. The real Emily, who I greatly respect, would have answered the question, rather than attacking the questioner. Maybe Andrew Neil got hold of her phone!”
Ending his tirade, he wrote: “Lynn is a pastor and I am the Pope”.