Ofcom clears BBC documentary on David Kelly death - Press Gazette

Ofcom clears BBC documentary on David Kelly death

Ofcom has rejected a complaint from a lawyer who claimed he had been unfairly treated in a BBC documentary on the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

Michael Shrimpton complained to the broadcasting regulator that an interview he gave for David Kelly: The Conspiracy Files, which was broadcast on BBC2 in February 2007, was unfairly edited and used without his consent.

The programme looked at the various questions that had been raised following Kelly’s death in July 2003.

It featured interviews with doctors, lawyers, security experts and politicians who had all questioned the official account and put forward a range of theories about how he died.

Shrimpton was one of the interviewees in the programme who considered that Kelly had not killed himself, as the Hutton Inquiry ruled in 2004, but had instead been murdered.

He said in the programme: “I was contacted within about 24 hours by somebody working with David Kelly in the intelligence community and he said he’d been murdered and I wasn’t particularly surprised at that and given the source I had no doubts whatsoever that he’d been murdered from that time.”

Shrimpton claimed he hads been misled into taking part in the programme and his interview had been unfairly edited to cut out what he said were the main points in his argument.

He also said he had been unfairly portrayed as a “crank” and a conspiracy theorist.

In its response, the BBC said the programme-makers explained the nature of the documentary fully to Shrimpton.

The corporation said he was given “adequate time and space to ensure that his views were fairly and accurately presented” and there was no evidence that his opinions had been misrepresented.

Ofcom ruled that Shrimpton had indeed been given sufficient information about the programme to be able to give informed consent for his participation.

“It was clear from a series of emails between the parties that Mr Shrimpton was aware of the tenor of the programme,” the regulator said.

“Ofcom took the view that, although he had some reservations about the programme, Mr Shrimpton did not seek to withdraw his consent for his interview to be used.”

It added: “Mr Shrimpton was, fairly, portrayed as a being an adherent to a theory that Dr Kelly was murdered by assassins.

“Mr Shrimpton’s portrayal in the programme was not unfair. Ofcom found no unfairness to Mr Shrimpton in this respect.”