Further submission to BBC Trust

Full correspondence with BBC listed here.

Dear Sir / Madam

Further to my appeal request of 2 September 2014 I wish to submit the following information for the Trustees’ consideration.

Alleged eyewitness Mohammed Abdullatif

I noted in my first letter of complaint that the alleged eyewitness Mohammed Abdullatif is clearly reading from a prepared text and in my latest submission that the nature of Abdullatif’s hastily corrected stumble (“You’re recalling peace, you’re calling for peace”) can only be ascribed to an error of reading.

In its response to my first letter BBC Audience Services stated (my emphasis):

“The team met and interviewed Abdullatif in the corridor of the hospital. He was not reading a statement, he did not have paper or card in his hands. He was visiting some of his relatives who were injured in the attack and was considerably upset. He was speaking a language he is unfamiliar with (English) while being interviewed on TV (something he is also unfamiliar with) and attempted to be formal when he started talking, apparently feeling he should “address” the UN and the world about what is happening around him. What perhaps sounds like a “statement” at the start of this section, (when he looks into the camera) quickly lapses into regular speech and he looks to the right of the camera, at the cameraman”.

This completely contradicts a response on the same point provided on 1 September 2014 by BBC Complaints Adviser Colin Tregear to another complainant [1]:

“The extract used in the programme was just part of a longer interview during which the contributor addressed the camera directly on a number of occasions as well as talking to the reporting asking questions. At this point he was asked what his message was to the UN and he turned and spoke directly to the camera. There is [sic] indication that he is reading from a prepared text”.

According to BBC Audience Services Abdullatif’s decision to address the United Nations was spontaneous and his own; according to Mr Tregear’s explanation Abdullatif was directly responding to a request made by the Panorama team for him to provide a message for the United Nations. Both explanations cannot be true.

I request that the Trust ascertains the source of the information in each case and seeks an explanation for this contradiction.

Further questions regarding Abdullatif’s contribution to the BBC News report of 29 August 2013 are noted here.

Weakening claims re: baby’s alleged injuries and implicit request by BBC Editorial Complaints Unit for independent medical opinion

In the same response to my fellow complainant, in respect of the allegedly burned baby featured in Panorama, Mr Tregear writes:

“I have reviewed the rushes and remain of the view that the baby in question had what appeared to be burns on its face. I cannot confirm that the baby definitely suffered burns because I am not an expert in this field.

This an extraordinary admission. Not only is Mr. Tregear unable to confirm that the baby had suffered “severe burns”, as claimed by Ian Pannell, he is now unable to confirm that the baby had indeed suffered any burns whatsoever.

Mr Tregear offers the weakest conceivable grounds to attempt to  persuade the complainant to amend her view that the baby was in fact entirely unscathed. Furthermore his defence of them – that he “is not an expert in this field” – suggests an obvious solution, and one which I have requested throughout my correspondence: that the BBC indeed seeks the opinion of medical experts.

When a currently practicing medical doctor has cast the gravest of doubts on the authenticity of Saving Syria’s Children, stating “I think the scene of the school children coming in with the burns was an act” and “Some are shown with skin hanging off but the flesh beneath is not that convincing it actually looks like more skin”, the Trust cannot in good faith refuse to grant Mr Tregear’s implicit entreaty for independent medical opinion on the veracity or otherwise of the baby’s alleged injuries, or my request for an independent expert view of the alleged injuries of all the supposed victims presented in Saving Syria’s Children and in all related third party footage.

Yours sincerely

Robert Stuart


[1] BBC reference CT/1400312

About Robert Stuart

Researching the 2013 BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria's Children and associated BBC News reports.

One response to “Further submission to BBC Trust

  1. Pingback: Fabrication in BBC Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ | Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

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