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Row after singer PJ Harvey guest-edits Today show

THE BBC has suffered a backlash after its flagship current affairs programme, Today programme, was guest-edited by 2011 Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey

THE BBC has suffered a backlash after its flagship current affairs programme, Today programme, was guest-edited by 2011 Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey

Harvey caused consternation among politicians and political commentators by changing the format of yesterday's edition through song and poetry, as well as subject matter.

Conservative Welsh Secretary David Jones said on Twitter: "Today's @BBCrdtoday is apparently the work of a 'guest editor'. Have to wonder who extended the invitation."

The programme, which many listeners observed took a left-wing stance, also drew criticism for its choice of guests, which included WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and journalist John Pilger. The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson tweeted: "Pilger always thought-provoking, but was he really suggesting that BBC ignore Obama's Mandela grief as he is a hypocrite?"

He added: "Or Sunni Shia massacres in Syria as Blair & Bush's fault? Surely, John those are what we call opinions not facts?"

Labour's Diane Abbott welcomed the change. The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP wrote: "Really enjoyed @BBCr4today edited by PJ Harvey. She should do it every day." Ms Abbott's views were shared by Labour colleague Barry Sheerman, who described the choices as "entirely refreshing".

Mr Assange suggested on the programme he is unapologetic about his role in helping to disclose government secrets. The whistleblower, who has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since he was granted asylum by the South American country in June 2012, said that seeking knowledge was one of the "most basic" human endeavours.

He said: "Documents disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show governments dare to aspire, through their intelligence agencies, to a god-like knowledge of each and every one of us. But at the same time they hide their actions behind official secrecy."

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