The Matrix Project is an effort to document personal factors that undermine powerful journalists’ claims of objectivity and impartiality. Are factors such as an elite education, establishment connections, personal wealth and interests in rival fields compatible with journalistic integrity?
This page looks at BBC journalist Andrew Marr. For more information on the database click here.
Learn about the significance of a private/Oxbridge education here
Andrew Marr attended the private/independent schools Dundee High School and Loretto School in Musselburgh
He read English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Learn about the significance of the Revolving Door here
Andrew Marr has no significant professional experience in politics or business
Learn about the significance of Establishment Connections here
Andrew showed himself to be on unusually close terms with David Cameron when the then-PM hosted a book launch for Marr at 10 Downing Street. “Remarkably, an awkward question managed to breach the bonhomie,” Private Eye reported. “Liz Thomson, co-editor of the website ‘Book-Brunch’, asked Marr if having Cameron host the book launch ‘mightn’t compromise his position as impartial political interviewer for the BBC” (Private Eye, Books & Bookmen column, Issue 1376, 19 September – 2 October, 2014)
Marr was also on intimate terms with Tony Blair according to an Evening Standard diarist who noted that Marr and his wife Jackie had been “hosting intimate dinner parties for Labourites Tony Blair, David Miliband and Tessa Jowell. Blair even returned the favour by having the pair over at Chequers, back when he had the keys”. Again, this was when Marr was the supposedly impartial BBC Political Editor (the most important political reporter in the country) and Blair was PM.
Salary/Indications of Wealth
Learn about the significance of journalists with an unusual level of wealth here
Andrew Marr was the 12th highest earner on the BBC’s “stars salaries” list in 2020-21 with an annual salary of £335,000-£339,999 (source)
As a point of reference, the Office for National Statistics list the average UK salary for 2021 as £26,193
Complaints / apologies
Learn about the significance of complaints/apologies here
Israel-Palestine Complaint Upheld – Press Gazette report that Andrew Marr breached BBC editorial guidelines in comment about “lots of Palestinian kids being killed” – the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit admitted that the comment ““risked misleading audiences” since “in the absence of any evidence to support the reference to ‘lots’ of children being killed at the time of transmission it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point.”
Super-Injunction Apology – Marr admitted in 2011 to taking out a super-injunction in 2008 to stop journalists reporting on an affair and said he was “embarrassed” to have taken this course of action
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, who twice contested Marr’s super-injunction, said: “As a leading BBC interviewer who is asking politicians about failures in judgment, failures in their private lives, inconsistencies, it was pretty rank of him to have an injunction while working as an active journalist.”
“I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists,” Marr said.
Andrew Marr had an elite education, he married into the Establishment, he earns more than 10 times the salary of the average Briton and, by his own admission, had relationships with politicians that were evidently close enough to compromise his reporting.
Impartial? Independent? Holding the powerful to account?
Learn more about the Matrix Project here.
Do you value the work of The Free Press? If so, please subscribe to our mailing list to receive a monthly e-mail update and use the share buttons to spread the word!