'That idiot in Brussels': BBC forced to apologise for interview 'ambush'
The BBC has apologised to the EU after a Brussels official was repeatedly called an "idiot" when taking part in a flagship news broadcast on the eurozone debt crisis.
TV bosses said they contacted European Commission economic affairs spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio to apologise for "discourtesy" that led him to walk off the Newsnight show during a video-link appearance from Brussels on Wednesday night.
The clip turned into an internet hit - and piled on discomfort for Britain's state media giant, already under fire for an interview with a self-styled independent trader who claimed bankers were "dreaming of another recession" so they can make more money.
The Commission, the EU civil service central in international negotiations to prevent the eurozone crisis from turning into a global economic catastrophe, had earlier demanded a formal apology.
Portuguese national Altafaj joined a discussion panel including Peter Oborne, a noted eurosceptic columnist primarily associated with Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
In what commission insiders viewed as an ambush, he was asked by star presenter Jeremy Paxman at the start of the debate: "Would you like to apologise, Mr Altafaj Tardio, for the lack of European leadership in this crisis?"
Altafaj defended the "political project" that is the creation of the eurozone in 1999, arguing that economics alone were not the reason to proceed with successive bailouts for Greece, Ireland and the Portugal.