BBC pundit interrupts live broadcast to ask why he hasn’t been paid for two years

BBC pundit interrupts live broadcast to ask why he hasn’t been paid for two years
Political commentator Mehdi Eliefifi broke off from discussing Russia-Ukraine crisis to demand payment

BBC Arabic has been publicly shamed by a guest speaker who interrupted a live broadcast about the Russia-Ukraine crisis to demand payment after claiming he had not been paid in two years.

Political commentator Mehdi Eliefifi was invited to speak about US President Joe Biden’s comments on the situation unfolding between Russia and Ukraine on 20 January, but used the opportunity to instead highlight an issue “of much higher importance”.

In his on-air protest, Mr Eliefifi said: “The BBC has failed to pay dues for two years. Where are those responsible for this payment of dues?”

The political analyst held up a sign to his camera which asked, “Where is my money?” and named two of BBC Arabic’s editors, Edward Jalad and Tamer Abdelwahab.

The BBC Arabic broadcaster interrupted him asking: “Do you think this is really of any importance to the viewers?”

But the video of Mr Eliefifi’s protest went viral in the Middle East and North Africa, and several other journalists claimed similar experiences with BBC Arabic, who are part of the UK licence fee-funded World Service.

Mr Eliefifi told openDemocracy he was owed about $10,000 (£7,560) for appearances dating back to 2019, while Ahmed Fathi, a US-based correspondent, estimated that BBC Arabic owed him several thousands of dollars stretching back two or three years.

BBC Arabic issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “To clarify the issue of the symbolic payments owed to some of the BBC’s guests, we conducted further investigations and we are aware of a technical defect in the payment mechanism within the institution, which led to the delay in the dues of some guests.

“Therefore, we apologize for the delay to all those affected by this matter and assure that we are working hard to solve this case as soon as possible.”

The BBC has subsequently confirmed that Mr Eliefifi was paid in February.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.