Corporation blames human error for suggestion caused by misplaced footage on News at Six
But the explanation has been greeted with scepticism by some who saw the incident as an example of pro-Brexit bias at the BBC.
At the end of Wednesday’s evening programme viewers were shown black and white footage of the iconic planes as newsreader Sophie Raworth summarised the prime minister’s plan to reopen Brexit talks with EU leaders.
As the footage of the planes was played, Raworth read: “Theresa May says she intends to go back to Brussels to negotiate her Brexit deal but EU leaders say the deal is done and they will not reopen talks.”
The editor of the programme, Paul Royall, said the Spitfire clip had been intended to be a foretaste of an item about a new Battle of Britain museum at Biggin Hill in London.
In a tweet he blamed the mix up on human error and joked he was “pretty sure” that May would not be travelling to Europe in a Spitfire.
Tim Montgomerie, the pro-Brexit columnist and founder of the ConservativeHome website, said he believed Royall’s explanation, but many would not.