BBC 'sorry' for claiming Geldof aid funded Ethiopian weaponsNovember 4th, 2010
The BBC has ‘unreservedly’ apologised for broadcasting a series of reports implying that millions of pounds in charity money raised by Live Aid to fight famine in Ethiopia was spent on weapons.
The corporation will broadcast a series of apologies admitting it had ‘no evidence’ for the claims, which prompted a complaint from Live Aid founder Bob Geldof and the Band Aid Trust.
An edition of Assignment, broadcast on the World Service radio channel in March, reported aid had been diverted by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front rebel group in the beleaguered African country to buy guns.
The story was followed up on the BBC’s TV and internet news service, naming Live Aid and Band Aid as the source of the misdirected funds.
An internal BBC investigation found the original story had unfairly given the impression the misdirected money related to Band Aid and Live Aid money.
The programme had also not raised enough question marks about one of the major sources.
The probe found the inclusion of evidence from a CIA report had added to the impression that Band Aid money was included in the allegations.
On television, a headline on BBC1’s One O’Clock News and the BBC News was also found to have been inaccurate or potentially misleading. An apology to be broadcast on World Service today will say: ‘The BBC wishes to apologise unreservedly to the Band Aid Trust for this misleading and unfair impression.
‘The BBC had no evidence for these statements, and they shouldn’t have been broadcast.’
The corporation also apologised to Geldof after it ‘unfairly’ said he refused to comment on the story. The musician welcomed the move but warned the BBC’s coverage could damage public faith in charity campaigns.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC accepts we should have been more explicit in making it clear that the allegations did not relate specifically to Band Aid.’
The BBC will be hit from midnight tonight by a two-day journalists’ strike which will cause widespread disruption to news programmes.BBC Breakfast, the Today programme and Newsnight may be forced off air. Among those understood to be supporting the action are Nicky Campbell, Victoria Derbyshire, Kirsty Wark and Martha Kearney. The National Union of Journalists, which has 4,100 members at the BBC, is staging two 48-hour strikes in a row over pension changes. Director General Mark Thompson will tell staff today that strikes will not help the corporation tackle its pension deficit. --DailyMail