At the time, a BBC spokesman announced ‘extensive inquiries’ had been made to find them.
But we can reveal today that the Corporation failed to even carry out the most basic checks, including speaking directly to Bashir.
Key journalists who worked alongside him on the Babes In The Wood documentary also said they were never contacted.
Nor were the families of Karen and fellow victim Nicola Fellows, nor a forensic scientist named by the programme’s editor as an expert who could analyse scene-of-crime material.
The acting director-general of the BBC at the time, Mark Byford, has also admitted no ‘formal investigation’ was held into the missing clothes.
Well might Julian Knight MP say in reaction, “These allegations, if proven, would amount to one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the BBC. This could be the BBC’s Milly Dowler phone hacking moment.”
His Commons Culture select committee will be interviewing Tim Davie on Tuesday.
Update – The story was discussed during this morning’s Broadcasting House paper review. Only one guest commented on it, namely former Conservative MP for North Devon Peter Heaton-Jones, who also previously worked for…guess who?…yes, the BBC:
Paddy O’Connell: What is the front page of the Mail on Sunday, Peter?
Peter Heaton-Jones: Well, yes I thought I should dip into the world of journalism from my previous life Paddy, and so…the Mail on Sunday is obsessed with the BBC, has been for some time, shows no signs of waning. So you can read about the BBC and the Mail‘s view of it on pages 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 26, should you be so disposed. I love the BBC. I worked here for 20 years and I think that the licence fee is the right way to fund the BBC. Let me get that out of the way first. But the Mail says one thing in its editorial which I think has some substance to it, and it’s this: They…quote, “The BBC’s closed and haughty elite with its insistence on being judge and jury in any case where it comes under criticism, ploughs on regardless”. And I just think if there’s one lesson for the BBC to learn, it’s you can get it wrong sometimes, don’t always defend yourself to the hilt if someone accuses you of getting something wrong.
Paddy O’Connell: And this front page is another scandal involving the disgraced journalist Martin Bashir.
Peter Heaton-Jones: Yes, “BBC hit by new Bashir shame”, they say on page 1 – and about 18 other pages. It’s not a good story, which I don’t think I want to go into detail about Paddy, but it’s another example of how I think the Mail and certain other newspapers will try to find any chink in the BBC’s armour. They are there, but they find them very actively.
Further update [Sunday evening] – The BBC has radically undermined BBC apologist Peter Heaton-Jones tonight.
He said it wasn’t a good story, but the BBC obviously disagrees. They’ve taken onboard the Mail on Sunday‘s investigation.
As a result, the BBC has now issued an apology, saying they’re “extremely sorry” over the loss of the murdered schoolgirl’s clothes.
This is important, and needs exploring further, though the BBC website report – true to form – spins the ‘cover-up’ claim as wrong, to the BBC’s advantage.
Maybe time will tell, or maybe it won’t.
Whatever, well done to the Mail on Sunday, however many pages they took over it.
Guest post by Arthur T from Is the BBC Biased?
A comment on Is the BBC Biased? a couple of days ago said:
The BBC are displaying their hero worship of Banksy again today.
Banksy, African migrants and his rescue boat adrift in the Med. It’s a story made in heaven for the BBC metro-liberals.
Just what is it about Banksy that so attracts the BBC above all other artists?
It’s staggering to find out just how much attention the BBC pay to the day-to-day activities of Banksy, when they hardly ever report on the subjects of any other artist’s work – unless of course their work carries a highly politicised message like Banksy. Even then, by comparison it is a drop in the ocean.
Believe it or not, Banksy has his own page on the BBC News website telling us the latest:
Entries here are as follows:
- 29/8/20 Migrants evacuated from overloaded Banksy ship
- 28/8/20 Banksy funds boat to rescue refugees at sea
- 28/7/20 Banksy’s works fetch £2.2 m to aid Bethlehem hospital
- 15/7/20 Cleaners remove Banksy tube art ‘unknowingly’
- 14/7/20 Banksy dons cleaner disguise to spray paint Tube
- 17/6/20 Banksy? Yeah I know who he is ‘Louis Theroux and street artist Banksy had a day out watching Peter Crouch play for QPR.’
- 16/6/20 When Louis Theroux went to a QPR match back in 2001, he met an aspiring street artist called Banksy, and they both saw a ‘lanky, ungainly’ young forward called Peter Crouch play for the home side.
- 10/6/20 Banksy artwork stolen from Bataclan found in Italy
- 9/6/20 Banksy has put his suggestion forward for what should happen in the wake of the toppling of Colston’s statue at Sunday’s protest.
Away from his own BBC News web pages, Banksy also features strongly elsewhere across the BBC – let’s look at Newsround (aimed at youngsters):
24/2/20 Banksy: Who is the famous graffiti artist?
Banksy is a famous – but anonymous – British graffiti artist. He keeps his identity a secret.
Why does no one know who Banksy is? His identity is unknown, despite lots of people trying to guess who he is.
Why is Banksy controversial? His artwork can be rebellious and is known for delivering political messages.
2 Comments ‘Woah!’ and ‘I think Banksy is Awesome!’
In the Arts and Entertainment pages of the BBC News website:
6/5/20 Will Gompertz has a say:
‘New Banksy artwork appears at Southampton hospital’
Here, we have the semblance of an art critic’s opinion from our Will, who as we know at ITBBCB? rates art works firstly on their political message (just so long as it’s the correct message), and secondly and then only occasionally, on their artistic merit. Here are some extracts:
The largely monochrome painting, which is one square metre, was hung in collaboration with the hospital’s managers in a foyer near the emergency department.
It shows a young boy kneeling by a wastepaper basket dressed in dungarees and a T-shirt. He has discarded his Spiderman and Batman model figures in favour of a new favourite action hero – an NHS nurse.
So much for the description. The story moves straight on to the political message:
Paula Head, CEO of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our hospital family has been directly impacted with the tragic loss of much loved and respected members of staff and friends.
The fact that Banksy has chosen us to recognise the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honour.
She added: “It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital, as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art. It will no doubt also be a massive boost to morale for everyone who works and is cared for at our hospital.
As far as it’s possible to tell from the above image, this isn’t spray painted. The denim effect would be almost impossible to recreate other than by a transfer print taken from a photograph. The 2 D basket, which doesn’t show the return banding, has a lack of perspective to match the figure. The basket also looks out of scale in relation to the size of the figure. We shouldn’t expect the BBC arts correspondent to give his view on the technical aspects of a work, should we?
In reply to Charlie’s question, from OT comments,
Banksy, whose real name is Robin Gunningham, is so liked by the BBC because his work carries a political message more than it does an artistic one. He is a political cartoonist – bang on message for the BBC’s narrative. His work is easily reformatted for printed or webpage imagery. It doesn’t require a second look – there are no details worthy of closer study. His air of secrecy and derring-do seal the deal. He would be the go to number one person to invite to the average Islington dinner party hosted by the Metro LibLeft Beeb programme commissioner. To change the old adage slightly – his work is 90% indoctrination, 10% inspiration.
All of the above doesn’t say much for the BBC’s integrity when they promote to youngsters through Newsround that Banksy’s identity is secret – self-evidently a lie. They say ‘His identity is unknown, despite lots of people trying to guess who he is.’ What a falsehood to promote to young viewers!
Perhaps when the time is ripe, there will be a great reveal in a feature length documentary by Louis Theroux. He is probably staking his claim to that high-earning nugget right now. In the meantime, no doubt the mystery is inflating prices for off-the-cuff napkin sketched by Banksy made during his circuit of north London Beeb dinner parties.
Another benefit of this secrecy is the ‘one stage removed’ strategy adopted by the BBC when they want to avoid scrutiny of their output. Independent think tanks, Cardiff University research or ‘a spokesman said’ are all familiar tactics. The extra plus with Banksy is that his work has to be posted, publicised and then authenticated as a ‘genuine Banksy’ giving ample wriggle-room of deniability should the publicity turn nasty.
All in all, the conclusion must be that the BBC is assisting a commercial enterprise. Books, calendars, posters and other memorabilia must rake in funds for the Banksy brand. The air of mystery, or should we call it deceit, is promoted by the BBC, giving this artist his own pages on their licence-payer funded website, as well as plenty of news and local news coverage.
BBC SLAMMED FROM WITHIN FOR USE OF ‘N-WORD’: The Daily Telegraph (£ 31/7) reported that the use by BBC social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin of the n-word an item broadcast on the BBC News Channel had come under fire from the BBC’s gender and identity correspondent, Megha Mohan, who had stated:
“By not saying the N-word, you send a clear signal that you will not normalise the most violent of language. It blows my mind that this is open for interpretation or being justified – especially at this of all times.”
The article said that the BBC had initially defended the use of the word because it was justified in the context it was broadcast, but had since removed the item from its archive.
THE BBC ‘WANTS TO PLAY A BIGGER ROLE IN CHILDREN’S EDUCATION: Anita Singh (£ Daily Telegraph 31/7), said James Purnell, the BBC’s head of radio and education, had signalled that he wanted the BBC to increase its ‘reach’ by making the Corporation take ‘a greater role in children’s education, and had said ‘the BBC’s online resources’ should ‘replace some of the “traditional” elements of teaching’. This, he claimed, would ‘free teachers to concentrate on pastoral care’.
Joseph Hearty, in the top-rated comment on the story, asserted: “Good God, no! If anyone wonders what sort of approach to education they would adopt just take a look at the Newsbeat section of the BBC website. It’s written by semi-illiterate children and promotes all the usual history-denying, trans-promoting, hijab-wearing, body positive, liberal guff that is exactly the reason people are turning against the BBC in their droves. Do they really think we want them teaching children this cr@p?”
THE BBC ‘IS LIKE A DISAPPROVING RELATIVE’: An article by Susannah Goldsbrough in the Telegraph (£31/7) headlined ‘The BBC is like a disapproving relative – it doesn’t get entertainment and doesn’t want to’argued that the Generation-Z age group (16-24) is turning away from the BBC towards streaming services because ‘their easy-come, easy-go attitude to entertainment’ is something the BBC ‘doesn’t get’ and ‘doesn’t want to’. For them, she claimed, ‘the BBC is like a disapproving relative’. Though the BBC is ‘serious about holding onto younger audiences’ and ‘wants to compete for [their] day-to-day viewing habits’, she argued that ‘the pillar of the British establishment’ needs to remember that ‘entertainment shouldn’t be a dirty word’.
This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?
PANORAMA PPE PROGRAMME ‘BREACHED EDITORIAL STANDARDS’: A report in the Daily Mail (24/7), said that the BBC,, having initially defended an edition of BBC One’s Panorama programme about the provision of personal protection equipment (PPE) by the NHS, had now admitted that it had breached editorial guidelines. The ruling, by the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), was that the programme, called ‘Has The Government Failed The NHS?’, had broken the internal editorial code ‘by failing to reveal’ that programme contributor Dr Sonia Adesara (who had attacked the Government’s alleged failures in the supply of PPE) was a long-time Labour party member.
The ECU ruling was that ‘the nature and extent’ of Dr Adesara’s political affiliation ‘was such that it might have been relevant to the audience’s evaluation of her contribution insofar as it was critical of the Government, and that it was a breach of the BBC’s editorial standards not to have given viewers appropriate information about it’. The report also noted that the unit had qualified its decision by also stating that ‘her criticism of the Government was in keeping with what might be expected from a doctor with experience of inadequate PPE provision, and that information about her political affiliations would not have called the validity of her concerns into doubt in the minds of viewers.’
BBC ‘LIES ABOUT CHURCHILL IN BRANDING HIM RACIST AND VILLAIN’: Writing for the Daily Mail (23/7), historian Dominic Sandbrook claimed that BBC news reports on BBC Radio 4 and BBC One about the 1943 Bengal famine were a ‘smear’ against Winston Churchill, conveying the ‘incredible’ impression, that the wartime prime minister Churchill ‘bore personal responsibility for the deaths of three million people’. Professor Sandbrook added that, while ‘watching in disbelief’, he had wondered which historians would be included to counter the arguments of the academics in the report who had asserted that Churchill was the ‘precipitator’ of the mass killings and guilty of ‘prioritising white lives over Asian lives’. He had found that the answer was ‘nobody’.
Professor Sandbrook also asserted that there had been ‘no mention of the complexities of wartime’; ‘no mention of Churchill’s national service’; and ‘no room for nuance’, ‘only a one-sided, almost deliberately misleading account, utterly divorced from context.’
He added: ‘The BBC’s message was clear. Churchill was a racist and a villain – and if you don’t agree, then so are you.’, He concluded:
‘Are BBC producers unable to see that if they keep lying about Britain’s history, they will lose popular support? Do they really care so little about the truth of our past? And are they really so cocooned in their smug metropolitan prejudices they can’t see how deeply they are offending millions of people? The answer, I fear, is clear. But this will not end well for the corporation’.
BBC ‘IS TONE DEAF’: A letter to The Times (24/7), from Janis Pringle from Undy, Monmouthshire, backed criticisms of the BBC management structure voiced by veteran BBC Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce (£ 21/7). Ms Pringle contended that the BBC, though a ‘magnificent’ organisation, is ‘sclerotic’ in its ways, and so concerned with ‘pigeonholing’ its audience and so ‘obsessed’ with attracting a younger audience, that it plied its daytime ‘mass’ audience with ‘recycled playlists’ and consigned ‘anything more interesting to the evening’ when younger people are supposed to be listening. She argued that audiences of all ages ‘can cope’ with more variety and wrote of the BBC, ‘. . .that this insults their entire audience seems to have escaped their notice’.
BBC ‘NAVEL-GAZING’ AND THE LOSS OF JENNI MURRAY: In her weekly column for the Daily Mail (25/7), Amanda Platell expressed regret that Jenni Murray will be leaving Radio 4’s Womans Hour on October 1, wondering if it was after she ‘enraged…the LGBT lobby’ that she ‘realised the Beeb was no longer her natural home’.
Ms Platell said that ‘the great personalities of the BBC — Jenni, Libby Purves, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys, both the Dimblebys, Andrew Neil — are disappearing before our eyes’ and that ‘they’re being replaced by navel-gazing, metropolitan chat-show hosts obsessed with a diversity agenda that ignores the views of the majority.’
THE NEW HOME OF BBC WALES HAS ‘A LEAKY ROOF’: According to the Daily Mail’s Izzy Ferris (25/7), the newly-opened BBC headquarters of BBC Wales in Cardiff, which took four years to build and cost £120m, ‘has a leaky roof every time it rains’. She writes of the Foster + Partners-designed building, that ‘Cleaners have to get out large buckets to stop the fourth floor from getting soaking wet.’ The BBC said that the leak hasn’t affected the BBC’s operations.
Roger Bolton: Hello. It’s nice to be back. Nothing much has happened at the BBC since we’ve been off-air, just a little local difficulty about gender equality and presenters pay and the usual accusations of leftie-liberal bias. Oh, and the BBC is now the prime target in the age-old political game of ‘Shoot the Messenger’. The reason? This:
BBC newsreader: Senior ministers will meet tomorrow to discuss what the government wants from the final Brexit deal.
Roger Bolton: Yes, Brexit.
(Go on, have a guess!)
First, what is the point of trying to make a balanced and impartial programme about Brexit? The country is so divided that members of the same families aren’t speaking to one another, and the generations and the nations are split down the middle. Facts are scarce and always contested, and fears are omnipresent. So I admire the courage and ambition of Chris Morris who, this week on Radio 4, began a third series of Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed. Subjects covered include: medicines, potatoes and Gibraltar. As with Brexit itself listeners, were deeply divided in their responses…
The next sentence is hyperbole.
The third is loaded.
The fourth (beginning “So I admire the courage and ambition of Chris Morris…”) is another blatant signal of where the ‘impartial’ presenter stands.
The fifth sentence is descriptive.
The sixth is a variant of our old ‘complaints from both sides’ friend…
Roger Bolton: Well, I’m now joined by Chris Morris, presenter of Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed. Chris, why are doing the programme? Because Alan Giles says, “It’s just all based on supposition”.
Chris Morris: I think that began with the desire to get away from some of the political maelstrom, the daily mud-slinging, as you heard from one of the contributors there. A lot of the coverage in the media is about the politics of Brexit. To begin with – it’s changing a bit now – but there was less about the practicalities of Brexit. And when we were asked to do this programme – essentially 15-minute bite-size chunks (not just for Radio 4 but of importance for a podcast audience as well) l said, well, I’m happy to do so long as it as doesn’t sound like 15 minutes of the Today programme because there’s plenty of coverage of the politics of Brexit elsewhere on Radio 4.
Roger Bolton: But that’s not a surprise because this is essentially about judgment about the future, isn’t it, and, going back to Alan Giles’s point, it’s supposition. So where are the facts that you can, if you like, you know, bring out?
Chris Morris: Well, there are plenty of facts in there. I agree that what is difficult is the debate around economic forecasting, because by its nature that is something which is essentially trying to predict the future. Now, maybe it’s done by people who have expertise in economics, but it’s still a prediction of the future. But let me give you one example: a programme we did this week about medicines. There are thousands of medicines which are currently registered in the UK, and if we leave the European Medicines Agency pharmaceutical companies will have to move the registration of those medicines to elsewhere in the EU to continue to be able to sell them. That’s a fact. They’ve told us that, and they’re going to do that fairly soon. Similarly with the nuclear medicines, we heard Alan complaining that it’s just about supposition, Well, the people we were talking to – with the chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, a representative of the British Nuclear Medicines Agency – these are people who I don’t think have axes to grind. They are experts in their field…
Roger Bolton: But Alan’s point would be: Well, this is the worst case scenario. And, of course, you’ve got to trust our governments. They’re not going to do anything suicidal like this. They’re obviously….you are right to point out it’s a problem but he would say the assumption is it’s an insuperable problem. ‘Be more optimistic!’ That’s what he’d say.
Chris Morris: In some cases it is the worst case scenario, but I think that shows that we’re taking Brexit seriously. We’re assuming it’s going to happen and I think it is without doubt the biggest change this country is facing in decades and, so, I think we have a responsibility to road-test it. And by road-testing we can say, well, we go to the people in various sectors – whether it be medicines or the nuclear industry or potatoes – and say ‘What are your concerns?’ and ‘What are your worries?’ and then we explore them.
Roger Bolton: Now, there’s a lot of criticism about balance, in it’s simplified form, because some people would say, ‘You’ve got 19 economists saying this is potentially disastrous, and you’ve got one non-economist saying ‘No, it won’t be’ and the BBC will have one person representing the 19 and another person representing… what? In other words, you are simply going tit-for-tat and the public is no wiser. Is that a problem with what you’re doing, this almost artificial sense of balance?
Chris Morris: It can be. And I think when it comes to our coverage of…One of the reasons why we wanted to avoid politicians is that we didn’t want to have a say, well, if we’re talking to that person from this party we have to talk to somebody from another party. So we have gone to what we believe are experts in the field. Now everyone has an opinion. I understand that. That’s natural. But I think, as a journalist, you do have to make a judgment whether you think the opinion that somebody brings to the table is valid, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
Roger Bolton: So you’re not impartial between right and wrong? If somebody says to you ‘2+5=4’ and the other says ‘2+2=5’ you say ‘One’s wrong; the first one’s right’? You have due impartiality -where it’s, as it says, it’s due. That is very, very tricky in such a toxic political atmosphere.
Chris Morris: It is very tricky but we’re not, in this series, trying to say ‘Brexit is good’ or ‘Brexit is bad’. We are trying to test what Brexit might mean.
Roger Bolton: How much pressure are you under? You’re obviously under pressure from those, as it were, outside the BBC who have passionate views about this, and the various campaigning groups. What about within the BBC itself?
Chris Morris: You know, we have what I would say are robust editorial discussion all time. As we should, I mean, I’d be disappointed if I didn’t have editors who say, ‘Are you sure you want to say that?’. That’s part of the process of journalism. In some ways, because you’ve got people saying ‘Are you sure this is correct? Are you sure you’re comfortable saying this?’, it sharpens the editorial process. I mean, I was based in Brussels – two different postings for eight years. We had that all the time in coverage of the European Union. And my argument about the EU has always been: I don’t really care whether you love it or hate it you but you should take it seriously.
Roger Bolton: Well, let’s look at the way you presented the programme because Rosalind Fox talks about ‘gimmickiness’. She thinks you’ve gone too far. When you listen to some of the things you’ve done, including some of those puns – ‘cheesy’ would describe one or two of them! – do you think you did go too far?
Chris Morris: No, I think it’s been deliberate. I think it’s sort of knowingly cheesy, if you like. I’ve done hundreds of hours of very serious, very sober broadcasting on the EU and on Brexit. If you look at a lot of the audience research we get , it’s (a) that people are a bit bored of the political mud-slinging. Some people get turned off by the ‘He said. She said’. And this is an attempt just to present it in a different way. I accept that some people won’t like it. That’s fine. It’s their right to have that opinion. But I think it’s not patronising the audience – which I think was the suggestion from one of the callers. I think which would be patronising the audience would be playing fast and loose with the facts. We are as scrupulous as we can be that we get the facts right, that we try and have a bit of fun with the way we present them. I think we should always be looking at different ways to present things because we know there’s a big audience out there that we don’t tap into yet, and we want to do that.
Roger Bolton: Chris Morris, the presenter of Radio Four’s Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed. I hope he’s getting well paid for it.
We are never keen on the argument that being attacked by both sides shows you must be getting it right. It’s quite possible to be wrong in two different ways, so we always take such criticisms seriously. In any case, few issues only have two sides, so teetering in the middle of the proverbial see-saw is seldom the right place.
It’s also characteristic of such pieces that our two brave BBC bigwigs give examples of what went right (eg. an interview with Douglas Carswell) but don’t give examples of what went wrong.
Plus they place complete trust in their own reality-checking process – something that continues to ring alarm bells with me. The BBC sitting in statistical judgement on hot topics of political controversy, and doing so under the banner of impartiality, is a much more questionable proposition than our two BBC high-ups seem to realise.
What a fascinating exercise in throwing everything at a subject, including the kitchen sink. Much of it is rehashing the usual defense talking points, but the Complaints From Both Sides thing was especially galling.
At first, I was prepared to be refreshed that they dared suggest that just because they get Complaints From Both Sides it doesn’t automatically mean they’re getting it right. Of course then they went on at great lenght to explain how they did.
Nor did the BBC shirk its responsibility to analyse the competing claims of both sides. Extensive use was made of Reality Check, the BBC’s fact-checking brand, in TV news bulletins, as well as online.
No, sorry, this is utter BS. Complaints about accuracy and detail are not the only kind they get, and it’s dishonest for them to pretend it’s the case. As for Fact Check, well, we know how that turned out. Bias by omission, bias by perspective, bias by contextualizing. Dateline London panels aren’t addressed here, nor is the ‘Brexageddon’ programming with no pro-Brexit equivalent, nor is the referendum vote night coverage.
Sometimes the stopwatch isn’t the best judge, but sometimes it is.
This reads like they had a whole list of ‘the usual moans’, with a ready list of defensive talking points. you can tell they sat down and went through some sort of checklist.
They make an interesting point about a referendum being a different animal to cover than other elections, as it’s a single issue. Brexit isn’t a single issue so much as it is a collection of specific issues, but fair enough.
But none of what they said addressed the issue of Laura K. with quivering lip and near to tears, Dimbleby croaking as he told us that sterling had crashed, the obvious anger and disappointment from so many Beeboids out in the field, Nick Robinson basically insulting 17 million people, with every single other reporter repeating his script, sometimes almost verbatim.
Nothing in the article addresses complaints about anything except ‘fact checking’ and time allotments, really.
Fail. I wonder if there’s some way to email a rebuttal to the journalism.co.uk editors.
This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?
There’s a warning today from Britain’s berry growers that Brexit could crush the industry.
UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don’t know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops.
Many growers blame the weak pound which has reduced their workers’ earning power, as well as uncertainty over Brexit, according to a BBC survey.
I think this is a clear case of BBC bias (conscious or unconscious).
And it’s far from being the first time that the BBC has spun its own surveys in a favoured direction.