It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stick up for the BBC. Having worked for the organisation in Belfast and London, I have known first hand how diligently journalists work to be accurate and impartial. The sole objective of journalists was to be factually correct with a story, rather than being first to shout about it. On occasions it felt that the requirement for truth and accuracy above all else was detrimental, as we held back on big, breaking stories, waiting for corroboration, as other outlets went ahead and broadcast. But more often than not it proved the smart move to not just have the story but to have it factually correct. It was on this basis that the BBC continued to uphold its reputation as the most trusted news organisation.

Sadly, on this side of the water at least, the BBC is no longer viewed as the bastion of truth and impartiality as accusations of left and right wing biases fail to abate. And now, following a judgement handed down to presenter Naga Munchetty, it can add an accusation of racism to the pile.

The fact the judgement has been overturned, after BBC director Tony Hall took a “personal” look at the decision by the organisation’s complaints unit, does little to counter the accusation because at this stage, the reversal feels merely like damage limitation after an angry backlash.

Munchetty’s offense concerned her response to Donald Trump’s remarks that four non-white Democratic congresswomen “should go back” to the countries they came from. During the segment on BBC Breakfast, she said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.”

“Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”

Asked by her co-host, Dan Walker, how Trump’s comments made her feel, she commented: “Furious. Absolutely furious. And I imagine a lot of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious that a man in that position feels it's OK to skirt the lines with using language like that.”

The BBC Complaints Unit decided that while she “was entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’ as it was rooted in her own experience, overall her comments went beyond what the guidelines allow for”. Confused anyone? Yes, me too. BBC editorial guidelines for making and delivering news programmes have long been at the heart of its news journalism. They are 18 sections of dense information, (in my day contained in a book so heavy it was worthy of one required for a university degree) which every journalist and presenter worth their metal must know like the back of their hand. They are there for a reason – to set the editorial values and standards for content in news and ensure the BBC is impartial, independent and accurate in everything it does. They are also there to support journalists and programme makers – to provide them with a framework to report on challenging events truthfully and fairly. And as the basis through which job interviews are based, if you wanted to get anywhere in the BBC you had to have a clear knowledge and understanding of the guidelines.

But as the Munchetty incident highlights, the BBC is treading a very dangerous line regarding impartiality on the basis of what is considered fact and opinion. What should have been clear from the outset, thus making the complaint an easy one to rebut, is that racism is not an opinion and it is not an issue where impartiality is required. For that reason, the idea that Munchetty was making a “biased political statement”, the term used by the one and only complainant against her, should have been easy to prove false. No one would reprimand a presenter for stating that the earth is round. Such a statement is considered a fact, not an opinion and not something requiring balance, so why should racism be treated any differently?

If the BBC learns from this embarrassing debacle, it will be a small victory for all of us. No one should fear calling out racism as racism when they see it, journalists included.