QUITE a week for the BBC and its presenters.

For one, a furore around a David Attenborough wildlife documentary, as detailed by my colleague Vicky Allen. Then the week-long grinding saga of Gary Lineker and his tweets about the Tory government’s appalling treatment of asylum seekers, as Neil Mackay takes up.

Now, too, Fiona Bruce is making more headlines for her questionable Question Time performance.

On last week’s show she stepped in to a discussion about Boris Johnson putting his father, Stanley Johnson, forward for an honour. The panellist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown had described the elder Mr Johnson as a “wife-beater … on record” and the programme’s host did as she is supposed to and provided context.

Bruce detailed how Boris Johnson’s mother, the late artist Charlotte Wahl, said Stanley had broken her nose and she had been hospitalised. “Stanley Johnson has not commented on that,” Bruce added, but “Friends of his have said it did happen.” Which was all fine, but then Bruce continued where she should have stopped: “It was a one-off.”

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Here’s where things become sticky and where impartiality knocks up against hard surfaces. Domestic abuse is a serious allegation and Stanley Johnson, as in so many domestic abuse cases, has never been charged or convicted of the crime.

When a guest makes a firm allegation of a serious offence live on television, it is expected that the presenter will, as legal caution if nothing else, provide a counterbalance. Bruce was not wrong to step in when she did, in the interests of this balance, no matter how you might feel about the Johnsons or the action of which Stanley Johnson is accused.

Third sector organisations, however, take specific lines on specific issues. With regards domestic violence, the position - backed by decades of experience and research - is that an incident of intimate partner violence is never a “one-off”. Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour, which may or may not involve violence, and is never “isolated”.

And Ms Wahl claimed in 2020 to a journalist that this had been the case with her husband, detailing a miserable marriage of sustained abuse. Fiona Bruce is an ambassador for the domestic abuse charity Refuge. She will know that this is the accepted and firm position of the charity. Not only that, she has been working in campaign spaces against domestic abuse for 25 years. She really must know her stuff.

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And yet, she went wrong here. It’s been suggested that Bruce took this line because she supports the Conservatives and has friends in the party. More likely, she meant no harm to the cause at all but said something inflammatory in an unsuspecting moment. Excuses aren’t enough, however.

Whichever way you hold it up to the light, a grim irony cuts through this incident. That is, a woman has taken responsibility for her words on domestic abuse and suffered the consequences while an alleged domestic abuser stands to be given an honour.

It was already a scandal that Stanley Johnson was nominated for a knighthood. What for? He is a self-described idle man, a blowhard. Is he to become Sir Stanley for having sired a failed prime minister? What’s that - a few minute’s work at most?

You may think the Fiona Bruce situation has been overblown, you may think her words appalling. Either way she has faced swift recriminations and seen consequences. Will Stanley Johnson? That is, will the discussion of his record, his behaviour, mean he is not awarded an honour? The untrammelled corruption and hypocrisy we have become used to in our public institutions is no better highlighted than in the cronyism of Boris Johnson’s honours list.

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Rishi Sunak, on taking over as prime minister, made the unwise pledge that he would run a government with integrity at every level. A fool’s promise, but he can work towards it. Mr Sunak is also at the helm of a government that pledged to better its record of tackling domestic abuse.

Here’s an easy win for both of those things: he can refuse to see Stanley Johnson become Sir Stanley, ensuring one bit of justice is meted to the right target.