Newsnight complaint update

27th May 2010

Mr Bruce Vander,

Editorial Standards Committee,

The BBC Trust,

180 Great Portland Street,

London W1W 5QZ

Dear Mr Vander,

Richard Hutt has directed me to your Committee regarding my complaint (ref: RH1000081) against Newsnight, 19th Janury 2010. I am grateful for this opportunity to appeal against his findings.

In my opinion the segment featuring Colonel Tim Collins failed to ‘retain a respect for factual accuracy’ and did not ‘fairly represent opposing viewpoints when appropriate.’

Mr Hutt writes, in relation to Jeremy Paxman’s preview and opening cues:

‘It seems to me that these cues made clear to viewers that the report would give the “take” of Colonel Tim Collins on the conflict. I also consider that the introduction made clear that the perspective which Colonel Collins would offer would be that of a soldier, able to comment on the military exchanges that had taken place in the locations he visited. I would consider therefore that the report was appropriately signposted as an “authored” piece with a focus on the military aspect of the conflict.’

Contrary to the above, Colonel Collins completely failed to interrogate ‘military exchanges’ and instead chose to focus only on the feeble resistance to the overwhelming firepower of the Israeli offensive that a tiny number of Gazans were able to mount, ie. homemade rockets. He made no attempt to evaluate the ‘military exchanges’ initiated by Israel or to put these in the context of the breaking of the ceasefire with Hamas on the part of Israel. As I pointed out in my original complaint his analysis of whether weapons had been fired from a particular location did not hold up evidentially – he offered no evidence, only his biased opinion.

Colonel Desmond Travers, a co-author of the Goldstone Report, which, despite Israel’s attempts to undermine it, is the most authoritative and balanced source of material regarding Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, described the comments of Colonel Collins as ‘in breach of good evidentiary procedures.’

The segment did not live up to the introductory cues and was grossly biased and inhumane in its conclusion that the IDF were justified in firing on unarmed civilians and wiping out an entire family in one location visited. Many viewers were deeply shocked and saw this as of apiece with the BBC’s unfair decision not to broadcast the DEC appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Langford

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