Potential Geneva Convention breach by BBC presenter: final appeal to BBC Trust

The BBC’s Trust has rejected this review request – see here (received 7 March 2016)


Your ref: 3467532

Dear Sir / Madam

Complaint about Dr Saleyha Ahsan

I am writing to request that the Trustees review the Senior Editorial Adviser’s decision not to put my complaint [1] regarding Dr Saleyha Ahsan before the Trust.

The decision states:

The Trust Adviser noted that the photographs that were the subject of complaint were no longer publicly available on the presenter’s Facebook page.

The images in question were published on Dr Ahsan’s Facebook account on 30 October 2011. Screenshots made on 27 April 2015, referenced in my appeal to the Trust, demonstrate that the photographs were publicly viewable for at least three and a half years. (In fact they remained public until shortly prior to 10 September 2015 when they were removed, it would seem reasonable to presume, as a result of my complaint).

The decision continues:

She also noted that the presenter had not been charged, prosecuted or convicted in connection with the publication of any of those photographs. In the Trust Adviser’s view, unless and until the question of the legality of their publication had been determined by a court of law, the complainant’s allegation that the presenter had committed breaches of international humanitarian law was unproven.

Despite asserting that the illegality of the publication of Dr Ahsan’s photographs is unproven, three paragraphs later the Adviser takes the clear view that their publication is in fact legal (my emphasis):

The Adviser believed that Trustees would be likely to conclude that the presenter’s lawful personal activities (including her Facebook postings, her charitable work and her political affiliations) had no significant bearing on the public’s perception of the BBC and did not give rise to any potential breach of the Editorial Guidelines.

The Adviser appears to require that I provide a reference to a court judgment in support of my complaint about Dr Ahsan’s Facebook postings, while herself making an uncorroborated assertion about the legality of the same.

The Adviser’s nonchalance with regard to the law is further demonstrated by the fact that she has not viewed the Memorandum of Law provided by international human rights lawyer Dr Curtis Doebbler, included in my submission[2]

This is despite the fact that, in an email of 11 September 2015, the Trust had granted my request for an extension of 15 working days in which to submit my appeal, wherein I had explicitly cited as my reason my wish to procure a legal opinion.

Bearing in mind the gravity of the matters which I am bringing to the Trust’s attention, I believe that the Adviser is negligent in ignoring Dr Doebbler’s expert opinion. Her remissness also does not persuade me that my appeal has been taken seriously.

The decision states:

Similarly, the Trust Adviser noted that the first charity had not been charged, prosecuted or convicted in connection with any alleged illegal activity, and that there was no evidence that, when working as a doctor for the first charity, the presenter had engaged in any illegal activity.

On 26 October 2015 the Charity Commission’s Investigations Monitoring and Enforcement Unit notified me that it would shortly make the trustees of Hand in Hand for Syria (“the first charity”) aware of the complaint I submitted to the Commission on 15 September 2015. [3]

Pending the outcome of the Commission’s investigation I draw the Trust’s attention to another image of Dr Ahsan’s Hand in Hand for Syria colleague (http://bit.ly/1lN2sc9):

saveatarebhospital_nurse_540 (1) As noted in my appeal, this woman (centre) worked alongside Dr Ahsan (right, checked shirt) at Atareb Hospital on 26 August 2013:

Nurse2Here (http://slnnews.co/?p=2578), wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic, she is apparently tending to the battle wounds of a child combatant:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=331960330291532&set=pcb.331962803624618&type=1&theater The decision states:

The Trust Adviser also noted that the presenter did not have a high media profile, was not a well-known ‘personality’, and had parallel careers in medicine and drama, from which the Trust Adviser inferred that the presenter was unlikely to be closely associated with the BBC in the public mind. Furthermore, the Trust Adviser thought it likely that viewers of health programmes such as The Truth About Fat would be likely to associate the presenter primarily with her previous appearances on Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, and would be unlikely to be aware of, or concerned with in [sic], her interests outside work.

The Adviser believed that Trustees would be likely to conclude that the presenter’s lawful personal activities (including her Facebook postings, her charitable work and her political affiliations) had no significant bearing on the public’s perception of the BBC and did not give rise to any potential breach of the Editorial Guidelines.

These arguments seem beside the point. I have presented the Trust with evidence which strongly suggests that a BBC presenter may have committed a breach of international humanitarian law. If such an action does not threaten either to “undermine the public’s perception of the impartiality, integrity or independence of BBC output” or to “bring the BBC into disrepute” (BBC Editorial Guidelines, Section 15.4.5) it is hard to imagine what may. What is the use of the Trust if it will not scrutinise to the fullest extent in its power such an alarming possibility?

Yours faithfully,

Robert Stuart

https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/

[1] My initial (stage 1a) complaint is here (29 April 2015); BBC Audience Service’s stage 1a response and my stage 1b complaint are here (6 July & 29 July 2015 respectively); BBC Audience Services’ stage 1b decision is here (27 August 2015); my appeal to the BBC Trust is here (15 October 2015).

[2] I infer this from my blog statistics which show that at 5:20pm on 26 November 2015, just over an hour after I had received the Adviser’s decision by email, Dr Doebbler’s Memorandum had been viewed only once, which instance was already accounted for by a correspondent who had downloaded the document and discussed it with me shortly after it was posted on 15 October 2015.

151126 BBC NOT LOOKED AT MEMO OF LAW DOC

[3] Footnote 6 of the Adviser’s decision claims I was mistaken to state in my initial complaint that Hand in Hand for Syria’s declared purpose on the Charity Commission website is “the advancement of health or saving lives”:

6 In fact, the first charity’s declared purposes are: “HELP THE REFUGEES IN LEBANON & TURKEY AS WELL AS PROVIDE FOOD SUPPLIES TO THOSE IN THE AFFECTED AREAS AROUND SYRIA. WE ALSO PROVIDE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT AND MEDICATION.” See:

http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithPartB.aspx?Reg isteredCharityNumber=1145862&SubsidiaryNumber=0

The link provided by the Adviser is to Hand in Hand for Syria’s “Charity overview” page on the Commission’s website and the text she cites is a description of the organisation’s “Activities”. The text I cited can be found at the first bullet point in the column “Classification” on the “Charity framework” page, where Hand in Hand for Syria’s “Charitable objects” are also listed:

HAND IN HAND FOR SYRIA EXISTS TO: RELIEVE FINANCIAL HARDSHIP, PROVIDE FOOD AND SHELTER AND OTHER ESSENTIALS, RELIEVE SICKNESS AND PRESERVE HEALTH, AND ADVANCE EDUCATION FOR THE PUBLIC BENEFIT. HAND IN HAND FOR SYRIA FOCUSES ITS EFFORTS BOTH ON SYRIAN PEOPLE IN SYRIA AND THOSE DISPLACED FROM SYRIA

It would be difficult to argue that any of these texts are consistent with the sentiment expressed on Facebook by Hand in Hand for Syria co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul, and “liked” by Hand in Hand for Syria co-founder, executive team member and trustee, Fadi Al-Dairi:

“WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”

Picture1

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3 responses to “Potential Geneva Convention breach by BBC presenter: final appeal to BBC Trust

  1. Pingback: Crisis Acting BBC Style: In the light of the recent False Flags and Fake News – this deserves another outing. | Philosophers Stone

  2. Pingback: Crisis Acting BBC Style: In the light of the recent False Flags and Fake News – this deserves another outing. | Alternative News Network

  3. Daniel Margrain

    I really admire your persistence Robert, in a case, of what is clearly a BBC cover up. There are many of us following this story and I’m sure I speak them, when I say, with all sincerity, that you get this matter be resolved.

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