BBC commits to responding to complaint in under 30,000 years

Below is the BBC Trust’s response to my request that it hear my complaint regarding BBC presenter Dr Saleyha Ahsan.

OK, so “10 December 29015” is a typo, but I think I may be excused an opportunistic jibe considering that the BBC’s response to my first complaint regarding Dr Ahsan limped in 48 or so working days after submission (the BBC’s stated aim for responding to “stage 1a” complaints is 10 working days after receipt) and, impressively, failed to address a single point I’d made.

Furthermore, BBC Complaints took a full two months to reply to my stage 1a complaint about Ian Pannell’s 2013 Aleppo “walking dead” report and an epic five months to respond to my stage 1b complaint about the re-editing of a 2014 Newsnight report which had originally included some of the same footage. (When I demanded extra time to escalate that complaint I was told that “complainants and the BBC should be put on an equal footing but it did not mean a ‘tit-for-tat’ approach in adhering to publicised deadlines”). In the event, my complaint against the BBC’s tat was (partially) upheld.

Another person who complained about Saving Syria’s Children endured delays of five and three months respectively to her stage 1a and 1b complaints, with “administrative error” cited on both occasions. Interestingly, the special treatment which the BBC appears to reserve for correspondents over this material is echoed by BBC Worldwide’s highly selective blocking of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ on You Tube.

From: Trust Editorial (
Sent: 21 October 2015 13:46:18
To: Robert Stuart

Dear Mr Stuart

Thank you for your email of 15 October 2015 to the BBC Trust.

We note that BBC Audience Services have informed you that they are not going to respond to you further on your complaint as they do not believe that it raised a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation.

The BBC’s Editorial complaints procedure explains that the BBC may not investigate your complaint if it fails to raise an issue of breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines or is trivial, misconceived, hypothetical, repetitious or otherwise vexatious, or if you use gratuitously abusive or offensive language. You can find details of BBC’s Editorial complaints procedure here:

The Trust does not adjudicate on every appeal that is brought to it, and we will now review your correspondence with BBC Audience Services to check that your appeal against their decision not to investigate your complaint further raises a matter of substance, in accordance with its usual complaints admissibility procedure, details of which can be found in the BBC’s Editorial complaints procedure.

The Trust’s Editorial complaints procedure explains that we will write to you with our decision on admissibility within 40 working days of the receipt of your appeal (i.e. by 10 December 29015), but we are usually able to do this sooner. We will also keep you informed if for any reason we meet with delay during this process.

If we decide that your appeal qualifies to be considered by the Trust, we will write explaining the process and setting out the timescale for taking your appeal. In considering whether or not an appeal qualifies for consideration, we may decide to take only part of the appeal, and consider only some of the issues raised.

If our conclusion is that your appeal, or any part of your appeal, does not qualify for consideration by the Trust, we will write and explain the reasons for that. If you disagree with our view then you may ask the Trust to review the decision by writing to us within 10 working days of the date on which you received our response.

If we decide your appeal qualifies for consideration, or if you challenge the decision of the Trust Unit not to proceed with some or all aspects of your appeal, the matter will be considered at the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee’s next monthly meeting. We aim to provide you with their final decision within 80 working days of our decision to accept your appeal or challenge.

Please note that if the Trust agrees with you that your complaint should be investigated further, it will ask the Executive to address your complaint again at stage 1 and provide you with a further response. If the Trust does not agree with you, its decision on this matter is final and your complaint will be closed.

Yours sincerely


Kirsty Clarke
Complaints Adviser

BBC Trust
180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ

About cerumol

Working with @TVOFFAL on feature documentary exposé of the 2013 BBC Panorama special Saving Syria's Children

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