Sunday, 24 February 2013

How the BBC missed the story... Again!

The BBC knew about the sex scandal surrounding Lord Rennard more than three months ago – but decided against running a news item on it.

The Corporation has admitted that its political team began looking at allegations in November that he had groped activists but has so far not broadcast the item.

Its failure to act on the tip-off meant Channel 4 News, which is produced by its arch rival ITN, was able to reveal details of the scandal last Thursday.

Its decision not to run with the story will inevitably lead to comparisons with Newsnight’s now infamous decision not to broadcast its exposé into Jimmy Savile’s sexual abuse.

In November, the broadcaster was still reeling from the fallout from Newsnight’s decision to broadcast allegations of sexual abuse by an unidentified peer.

Lord McAlpine was wrongly identified as the peer at the centre of the untrue allegations and the BBC was forced to pay damages. It is possible that the controversy from that incident caused it to be a little more risk-averse than it might have been.

A BBC spokeswoman last night insisted the Corporation had pursued the story from the beginning and was continuing to pursue it.

She said: ‘To suggest we did not pursue this story is untrue. We began investigating allegations but we are unable to persuade the women to speak on camera.

‘We needed to get first-hand testimony on camera. We have continued to try to secure interviews, making it clear that we are ready to record an interview when they were ready to talk.’

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