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Sunday Politics complaint response

Sunday Politics complaint response

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Published by slaughtera
Response to complaint made about BBC Sunday Politics show.
Response to complaint made about BBC Sunday Politics show.

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Published by: slaughtera on Feb 19, 2014
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British Broadcasting Corporation
 White City, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS Telephone: 020 8743 8000 Email: ecu@bbc.co.uk
Editorial Complaints Unit
Mr Andrew Slaughter MP andy.slaughter.mp@parliament.uk  
10 January 2014 Dear Mr Slaughter
Sunday Politics (London), BBC1, 7 July 2013
I am writing to let you know the outcome of the ECU investigation into the complaints you made about this programme. I am sorry that you were not happy with the response that you received when you first raised these matters with the BBC and I hope that I can address your concerns here. We have now watched the programme and reviewed the earlier correspondence. We have also received further responses from those responsible for making the programme. Your complaints, it seems to me, can be summarised as follows:
That the programme inaccurately claimed that you had been responsible for introducing filming restrictions at Hammersmith and Fulham council meetings despite the fact that you had pointed out to them, between the recording and broadcast, that this was inaccurate; and That you were not given notice that this allegation would be made prior to your appearance on the programme and that this unfairly denied you sufficient opportunity to respond to it.
The context of the claim which concerns you was an item on government proposals to allow greater access for filming, recording and taking photographs at local council meetings. The filmed report concluded with an element concerning Hammersmith and Fulham Council where greater access had already been agreed but where, according to the Conservative leader of the Council, the existing rules lagged behind the degree of transparency which he wanted to see achieved. The leader of the Labour opposition then said that although some filming had  been allowed, there were 150 people outside the meeting featured in the programme, demonstrating against hospital closures, of whom only a small proportion were being allowed in. There was then footage which identified you addressing that demonstration. The reporter then said:
The Conservatives here were quick to point out to us that the filming restrictions were  first introduced by him back in 2003 when he was Leader of the Council.
The item continued with discussion in the studio, and the following exchange took place:
Tim Donovan
 Ah. Restrictions imposed, introduced by yourself, not letting cameras into meetings. I think I heard your Labour, or the Labour leader, there now say
ing it’ 
 s something they  felt should happen a lot, and had complained to the Conservatives about it.
Andrew Slaughter
Oh, that was a long, long time ago...
2003, I believe...
Well, can I say to him my experience is rather different...
Your experience is that w
hen you’ 
re actually in government or run the council then we
don’t want them in but when you’ 
re in opposition and there are lots of protesters outside then you do want them to come in...
What I certainly never did, which is what happened to me a few weeks ago, I tried to take a photograph, not to film but to take a photograph of the planning decision to kno
ck down the 760 of my residents’
homes when the Planning Committee was voting to do that and two burly security guards tried to confiscate my phone and throw me
out so I think the view you’ 
re getting from Hammersmith Council was probably pre-arranged for the day, for the BBC, to show you h
ow open they are. Normally they’ 
re a lot more testy.
 And they say they’ 
re going to review these restrictions that were put in place by one  Mr Slaughter. At last, let transparency reign at Hammersmith.
The answer is, social media, we’ 
re in a completely different world now. I think
 s waking up to the fact that the more you resist
the public knowing what’ 
 s  going on, whethe
r the public wants to know what’ 
 s going on is another matter...
The discussion then moved to other, unrelated points. BBC London have told us that they believe that the claim that you were responsible for restrictions being introduced was attributed to the Conservatives as an allegation for you to respond to and that this was, if you like, part of the rough and tumble of party politics. However, I am afraid that I cannot agree with this. Firstly, nowhere in the filmed report do
any of the words “allege” “allegation” or “claim”
or anything similar actually appear. Rather, the viewer was told that the Conservat
ives were “quick to point out” that you were responsible for the restrictions. To “point out” means to dra
w attention to and carries a quite
different meaning to “allege” or “claim”. In the normal meaning it suggests drawing attention
to something that has a basis in fact. Likewise,
the presenter’
s questions when the item moved back to the studio did not once mention a Conservative allegation or claim and seemed to me unequivocally to endorse what had just been said as a factual statement, not a mere allegation. Furthermore, the presenter then used it as the basis for a suggestion of double standards on your part. In relation to accuracy, then,
I think we’re dealing with a claim to the effect that you were
responsible for the original introduction of restrictions on cameras in meetings, and that your complaint stands or falls according to whether or not that
claim is true. As you’re aware, the
 programme-makers took the view that the information they were given in exchanges with the

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