The grieving sister of murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross accused the BBC of using the 14-year-old’s death “for political agendas” during an immigration debate on its “Question Time” programme.
Police are hunting Latvian national Arnis Zalkalns over the killing of Alice, whose body was pulled from the River Brent in west London on Tuesday, five weeks after she disappeared.
On Thursday night’s show presenter David Dimbleby said a question had been submitted relating to “the hideous murder of Alice Gross”, namely: “Should there be freedom of movement including convicted criminals across EU borders?”
The question sparked a discussion about whether Zalkalns, who was jailed for seven years in his home country for murdering his wife, should have been allowed into Britain.
Panellist Julian Huppert, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: “There was a catastrophic failure in this case, he should never have been allowed to come in.”
Nina Gross later wrote on Twitter: “It is extremely insensitive to use my family’s tragedy for political agendas and discussion. This is a time of grief for our family. In future, please respect our wishes as we grieve.
In other posts directed at BBC Twitter accounts, she added: “It is really insensitive and horrible that you have used our family’s tragedy on Question Time.”
Question Time later apologised via the show’s Twitter account, which stated: “Dear Nina, we’re sorry to hear this. We’re really sorry for any hurt or offence caused by tonight’s programme.”
She replied: “Thank you.”
Further tests are due to be carried out on Alice’s body after a two-day most-mortem examination this week proved inconclusive.