BBC GUILTY OF ‘BREATH-TAKING DOUBLE STANDARDS’ IN ATTACK ON SALMOND: Christopher Stevens (Daily Mail 18/8), reviewing The Trial of Alex Salmond – a BBC2 programme about the former SNP leader’s trial on charges of sexual assault in March – said that its approach smacked of ‘breath-taking double standards’. Noting that it had been presented by Kirsty Wark, of Newsnight, he observed:
“Salmond was cleared on all counts. But that didn’t stop Wark from raking up all the claims and interviewing three of the women who gave evidence. The report ended with an actress reading the words of one: ‘I know I was telling the truth. I know what happened to me.’ Another grieved: ‘I’m worried about what this says more widely to other women, or just to us as a society. I mean, where does this leave us? Clearly, it leaves us in a situation where a BBC documentary can pour doubt on the findings of a jury that ‘fails’ to deliver a guilty verdict in a sex case.”
Mr Stevens argued that this betrayed the double standards because Ms Wark had been a presenter of Newsnight since 1993, and ‘as she lamented the damage wreaked by the Salmond trial to the #MeToo movement’, she said nothing of her own programme’s failings in dropping a special investigation of the sex crimes of Jimmy Savile in 2011.
“Savile never stood trial and, even after he was dead, some at the Beeb tried to turn a blind eye to his vile activities. Alex Salmond won his court case, and he also scored a victory in an earlier civil suit against the Scottish government, over its handling of the allegations against him.
“Salmond conceded some of his behaviour towards women was boorish and shameful. But he maintained it fell far short of being criminal — and the jury agreed.
“Unless the BBC is trying to argue Britain’s entire judicial system is unfit for purpose, Kirsty Wark should not be suggesting the trial has done serious damage to women’s rights across the country. Instead, she should never lose sight of the fact that Jimmy Savile, a BBC employee, committed foul offences against women and children, sometimes within the BBC’s buildings. And the Newsnight report into that was dropped.”