Subsequent correspondence with the BBC on this matter:
- BBC Audience Services stage 1b decision (27 August 2015)
- Appeal to BBC Trust (15 October 2015)
- BBC Trust rejection of appeal (26 November 2015)
- Review request (11 December 2015)
- BBC Trust rejection of review request (received 7 March 2016)
I presented a summary of my concerns regarding Saving Syria’s Children to Jeremy Corbyn MP on 16 December 2015. See also this presentation for Frome Stop War.
29 July 2015
Submitted via BBC Complaints webform
Dear BBC Audience Services
Thank you for your letter of 6 July (below) responding to my complaint of 29 April regarding Dr Saleyha Ahsan.
Your response does not address any of the concerns I have raised, which to briefly restate are:
- In publishing on Facebook photographs of a captive in Libya in 2011 Dr Ahsan has plainly breached provisions of the Geneva Convention protecting prisoners of war and others caught up in conflicts against insults and public curiosity. 
As noted by former BBC legal correspondent Joshua Rozenberg, the same Geneva Convention provisions were used by the US Government to justify its 2004 decision not to allow photographs of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to be published, with military lawyers claiming that releasing their photographs “would be inconsistent with the obligation of the United States to treat the individuals humanely and would pose a great risk of subjecting these individuals to public insult and curiosity”.
- In other Facebook images Dr Ahsan poses with armed units which appear to include adolescent members. In her February 2015 Radio 4 play about her experiences in Libya Dr Ahsan expresses the view that the primary need of a 17 year old boy exhibiting signs of battle trauma is to rejoin an armed military unit. Other of Dr Ahsan’s Facebook photographs demonstrate a nonchalant attitude towards the presence of children amidst armed groups.
- In the 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children Dr Ahsan is seen volunteering with Hand in Hand for Syria. Purportedly a humanitarian organisation, Hand in Hand for Syria’s co-founder has publicly proclaimed a desire to “bring Assad to justice; no matter what lives it takes, no matter how much catastrophe it makes”. A nurse who works alongside Dr Ahsan in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ is pictured wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic and apparently treating the battle injuries of a fifteen year old “rebel” fighter in a web article which celebrates the child’s fighting prowess.  In December 2014 Sam Hewett, Operations Coordinator of ShelterBox International, indicated that Hand in Hand for Syria was being investigated by Special Branch.
Note also that in 2014 Dr Ahsan spoke at an event organised by Cage. Cage has been described by The Daily Telegraph as a “terrorism advocacy group” and branded as “extremist” by David Cameron.
Please address the points above and as expanded upon in my initial complaint in light of Section 15.4.5 of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, which states:
The external activities of BBC editorial staff, reporters and presenters should not undermine the public’s perception of the impartiality, integrity or independence of BBC output. External activities should not bring the BBC into disrepute. It is also important that off-air activities do not undermine the on-air role of regular presenters.
Please note that my original complaint has been copied to Amnesty International which confirmed on 9 July that it has been forwarded to the relevant research team.
 The appalling treatment of black Africans captured by Libyan “rebels” is well documented:
 Further shocking images of the same child and others attached to the same militia unit can be found here.
BBC Audience Services PO Box 1922, Darlington, DL3 OUR Telephone 03700 100 222
6 July 2015
Dear Mr Stuart
Thank you for your letter regarding ‘The Truth About Fat’. Please accept my apologies for the long delay in replying. We contacted the production team who have provided the following response:
Dr Ahsan is a practising Accident and Emergency doctor, and at the time of this commission, she was already part of the established presenting team for the popular BBC Two health series, ‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’.
`The Truth About Fat’ was commissioned alongside ‘The Truth About Calories’ by BBC Science, for BBC One. It was felt appropriate for both of those programmes to have a presenter with medical expertise, and in both cases, a presenter from ‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’ was selected. In the case of ‘The Truth About Fat’, this was Dr Ahsan.
A primary consideration in her selection for this programme was that Dr Ahsan had a particular interest in this subject, having presented items in this topic area for ‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’. Furthermore, she herself was prepared to undergo medical tests on camera that were relevant to the subject of the programme, and whose results would give the audience insights into how fat behaves within the human body.
In the event, Dr Ahsan was able to deliver the content of the programme with the mix of authority and personal engagement that was required to make the subject accessible to a non-specialist audience.
I hope you will find this response helpful.