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BBC gives back RTS award for ‘faked’ Panorama doc

By Myriam Dijck

The BBC’s Panorama yesterday handed back a Royal Television Society award it won in 2009 for a programme claiming to expose the use of child labour by retailer Primark.

The corporation said it would be ‘inappropriate’to keep the award for best UK current affairs programme after the BBC Trust found that Primark: On the Rack had breached accuracy and fairness guidelines.

It featured a 45-second scene it claimed had been obtained from a Bangalore workshop showing three boys working on sequined tops – but the Trust found it was ‘more likely than not’that the footage was not genuine.

‘The BBC has apologised for including a short section of film which could not be authenticated in the Panorama programme Primark – On the Rack,” the BBC said in a statement.

‘We acknowledge that a serious error was made and therefore it would be inappropriate to keep the RTS award.”

The journalist who presented the programme, Dan McDougall, has described the Trust’s findings as ‘unjust in outcome, flawed in process, and deeply damaging to independent investigative journalism.”

In a statement released after the Trust’s findings he said: ‘In the BBC Trust’s own words, there is no ‘one piece of irrefutable and conclusive evidence’ to support the allegation that the sequence in the prograamme had been staged.”

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‘The BBC claims that investigative journalism should remain at the heart of the BBC news but what this verdict demonstrates is that it judges journalists on the balance of probability rather than fact.”

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