Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Thank you for your email about the court appearance at Penine Magistrates of two men accused of possessing chemical explosives. It is indeed interesting. Unfortunately BBC TV news didn't know about the police find.
I would like to assure you the BBC takes very seriously its responsibility to report all issues fairly, accurately and impartially. This is as true of issues involving potential terror plots by former BNP activists or radical Islamists. The BBC has a long history of exposing the BNP and any past wrongdoing.
I have investigated how the story was missed. It appears a reporter from BBC Radio Lancashire investigated initial reports but the police "played it down". Our regional televison centre in in Manchester found out about the story only after it was reported in the Colne Times. By this time it was several days old. On investigation they discovered that reporting restrictions were in place which severely curtailed what could be said by the media.
Two arrested men are due to appear at Blackburn Crown Court on October 23rd, BBC TV News will attend the hearing.
Thank you for alerting us to this story.
Assistant to the Head of BBC TV News
Police played it down, reporting restructions, we didn't hear about it. The trouble is, the BBC's excuses aren't completely threadbare: in cases of 'Islamic' terrorism, they would be very quick to hear about it from the police and the government, and no amount of playing down would be involved. On the other hand, a story being several days old has not always prevented the BBC from covering it. Realistically, they could so easily have made a very big top news story about it, and chose not to. Whether this is because they take their cue from the police and the government in such matters is, of course, not for me to say (they do).