‘Saving Syria’s Children’ FOI request – appeal to General Regulatory Chamber

Following the BBC’s rejection of my Freedom of Information request for documents pertaining to the September 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children and the decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office not to uphold my appeal I have submitted a further appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber).

The key text of the appeal is reproduced below. A copy of the full appeal document is here.

3 May 2016 – The Tribunal has issued this response.


General Regulatory Chamber (GRC)

Notice of appeal

This form is for making an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber). The First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) is administered by HM Courts & Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, and is independent of regulators.

Please complete the form legibly, using black ink and CAPITAL LETTERS.

1) Your details
Name of appellant ROBERT STUART

5) Grounds of appeal
Please give your grounds of appeal.

Your grounds should explain why you think the decision notice you have been given is wrong. You may find it helpful to refer to the individual paragraphs you disagree with and explain why you disagree with them.

I BELIEVE THE DETAILED EVIDENCE SET OUT IN MY BLOG (HTTPS://BBCPANORAMASAVINGSYRIASCHILDREN.WORDPRESS.COM/) AMPLY DEMONSTRATES THAT THE BBC REPORTS IN QUESTION WERE LARGELY, IF NOT ENTIRELY, FABRICATED.

THIS EVIDENCE INCLUDES:

A) TESTIMONY FROM A COMMANDER IN THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY, STATIONED IN THE ALEPPO AREA AT THE TIME OF THE ALLEGED “NAPALM” ATTACK, AND FROM A LOCAL RESIDENT, STATING THAT THE INCIDENT REPORTED BY THE BBC DID NOT OCCUR.

B) THE IDENTIFICATION OF A NETHERLANDS RESIDENT WHO APPEARS TO HAVE PARTICIPATED IN SCENES FILMED ON THE DAY OF THE ALLEGED ATTACK, FRAUDULENTLY ASSUMING THE ROLE OF A VICTIM.

C) DISCREPANCIES OF UP TO SIX HOURS IN ACCOUNTS OF WHEN THE ALLEGED ATTACK TOOK PLACE. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CLAIM THE ALLEGED ATTACK OCCURRED “AROUND MIDDAY”. THE VIOLATIONS DOCUMENTATION CENTER IN SYRIA STATES IT WAS “AT 02:00 PM” AND DIRECTLY QUOTES ACTIVIST MUSTAPHA HAID SAYING HE HEARD RUMOURS ABOUT A CHEMICAL ATTACK “AT 3 IN THE AFTERNOON”. THIS IS DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED BY BBC REPORTER IAN PANNELL WHO CATEGORICALLY STATES IN BBC COMPLAINTS CORRESPONDENCE THAT “THE ATTACK HAPPENED ON THE 26TH OF AUGUST AT AROUND 5.30PM AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL DAY”. FURTHERMORE, THERE APPEARS TO BE DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN MR PANNELL AND HIS SOLE BBC COLLEAGUE ON THE REPORTS, CAMERAMAN DARREN CONWAY, WITH MR CONWAY STATING THAT THE ATTACK HAPPENED “BETWEEN THREE AND FIVE, SOMETHING LIKE THAT” (THIS MAY BE A REFERENCE TO THE TIME AT WHICH MR CONWAY BEGAN FILMING THE ALLEGED VICTIMS ARRIVING AT A NEARBY HOSPITAL, SOME TIME AFTER THE ALLEGED ATTACK, IN WHICH CASE MR CONWAY’S ESTIMATE IS EVEN FURTHER AT ODDS WITH MR PANNELL’S STATEMENT). THE VIDEO OF THE EVENT AT WHICH THE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN MR PANNELL AND MR CONWAY’S ACCOUNTS AROSE IS BEING WITHHELD BY THE ORGANISERS, THE FRONTLINE CLUB IN LONDON, ON WHAT I AND OTHERS WHO ATTENDED CONSIDER TO BE A WEAK PRETEXT. ANOTHER SUPPOSED WITNESS PUTS THE ALLEGED ATTACK AS OCCURRING POSSIBLY AS LATE AS 6PM.

D) EVIDENCE THAT TWO ALLEGED VICTIMS SHARED THE SAME HIGHLY DISTINCTIVE CLOTHING, SUGGESTING THAT AMATEUR ACTORS OR VOLUNTEERS WERE USED IN THE FILMING OF SCENES AT THE HOSPITAL CONCERNED.

E) THE PERSONAL CONNECTION BETWEEN BRITISH DOCTOR AND FORMER ARMY OFFICER DR. SALEYHA AHSAN, WHO IS FEATURED IN ‘SAVING SYRIA’S CHILDREN’, AND A BRITISH ARMY OFFICER WHO RUNS LARGE-SCALE MEDICAL SIMULATION EXERCISES WHICH “MIMIC EVEN THE MOST SEVERE OF INJURIES” AND WHICH EMPLOY “PROFESSIONAL CASUALTY SIMULATION (MAKE-UP) ARTISTS WHO NORMALLY WORK IN THE FILM INDUSTRY.” THESE TECHNIQUES COULD QUITE ADEQUATELY ACCOUNT FOR THE ALLEGED INJURIES SEEN IN THE BBC REPORTS. A CASUALTY SIMULATION COMPANY (HTTP://WWW.TRAUMAFX.CO.UK/) WHICH HAS SUPPORTED UK MILITARY EXERCISES FOR 10 YEARS STATES ON ITS WEBSITE THAT IT SPECIALISES IN “CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR” INJURY SIMULATION AND THAT IT IS A MOBILE TEAM WHICH CAN EASILY WORK INTERNATIONALLY AND IN ANY LOCATION. (SEE THIS VIDEO FROM 1:03:31 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu6TlmHnd4c AND THIS PAGE FROM MY BLOG HTTPS://BBCPANORAMASAVINGSYRIASCHILDREN.WORDPRESS.COM/HOSPEX-MACRO-SIMULATION-TECHNIQUES/). NB: I DO NOT SUGGEST THAT TRAUMA FX OR ANY OF ITS STAFF WAS INVOLVED IN THE BBC’S REPORTS.

F) A LARGE NUMBER OF STARTLING INCONSISTENCIES BETWEEN ACCOUNTS OF THE ALLEGED EVENT PROVIDED BY DR SALEYHA AHSAN AND BETWEEN DR AHSAN’S ACCOUNTS OF THE ALLEGED EVENTS AND THOSE OF OTHERS PRESENT.

G) CONTRADICTIONS IN ACCOUNTS OF THE ALLEGED EVENT PROVIDED BY BBC REPORTER IAN PANNELL PLUS OTHER QUESTIONS SURROUNDING MR PANNELL’S REPORTING OF THE ALLEGED EVENT.

H) THE SELECTIVE BLOCKING BY BBC WORLDWIDE OF ALL YOUTUBE COPIES OF ‘SAVING SYRIA’S CHILDREN’, OVER AND ABOVE OTHER EDITIONS OF PANORAMA.

I) HIGHLY INCONGRUOUS IMAGES OF SUPPOSED VICTIMS OF THE ALLEGED ATTACK SMILING SHORTLY AFTER HAVING ALLEGEDLY BEEN BURNED WITH A “NAPALM-TYPE SUBSTANCE” AND EQUALLY INCONGRUOUS IMAGES OF SUPPOSED WITNESSES SMILING AND LAUGHING IN INTERVIEWS SHORTLY AFTER THE ALLEGED EVENTS.

J) MANY MORE EVIDENCE POINTS AND POTENTIAL EVIDENCE POINTS ANALYSED AND DISCUSSED ON MY BLOG, ALL POINTING TO THE BBC’S REPORTS BEING LARGELY IF NOT ENTIRELY FABRICATED.

MANY OF THE ABOVE EVIDENCE POINTS ARE DISCUSSED IN THIS VIDEO RECORDING OF A PRESENTATION THAT I GAVE FOR FROME STOP WAR ON 1 MARCH 2016 WHICH I RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT THE TRIBUNAL PANEL VIEWS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu6TlmHnd4c

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE EVIDENCE COMPILED, I THEREFORE UNDERSTAND THE BBC REPORTS IN QUESTION TO HAVE CONTRAVENED ARTICLE 20 OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, WHICH STATES:

1. ANY PROPAGANDA FOR WAR SHALL BE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
2. ANY ADVOCACY OF NATIONAL, RACIAL OR RELIGIOUS HATRED THAT CONSTITUTES INCITEMENT TO DISCRIMINATION, HOSTILITY OR VIOLENCE SHALL BE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

(HTTP://WWW.OHCHR.ORG/EN/PROFESSIONALINTEREST/PAGES/CCPR.ASPX)

THE UNITED KINGDOM IS A SIGNATORY TO THE COVENANT; THEREFORE I AM OWED AN ARTICLE 20 RIGHT BY THE UK GOVERNMENT.

6) Outcome of appeal
Please tell us what outcome you are seeking from your appeal

I BELIEVE THAT THE EVIDENCE WHICH I AND OTHERS HAVE GATHERED CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES THAT THE BBC HAS COMMITTED THE GREATEST BETRAYAL OF AUDIENCE TRUST IMAGINABLE BY A NEWS BROADCASTER – THE FABRICATION OF AN ATROCITY FOR THE PURPOSES OF WAR PROPAGANDA. SUCH AN EGREGIOUS TRANSGRESSION IS QUITE POSSIBLY UNIQUE IN THE HISTORY OF BROADCASTING.

I THEREFORE RESPECTFULLY ASK THE TRIBUNAL TO UPHOLD MY FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST OF 14 JANUARY 2016 AND TO INSTRUCT THE BBC TO RELEASE ALL THE DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED FOR THE SCRUTINY OF MYSELF AND OTHER JOURNALISTS.

AS WELL AS IT BEING VERY STRONGLY IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST FOR THIS MATERIAL TO BE ACCESSIBLE, AS OUTLINED ABOVE ITS RELEASE WOULD FACILITATE MYSELF AND OTHERS IN PURSUING RIGHTS OWED UNDER ARTICLE 20 OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS.

8) Supporting document
Please list any documents that you wish the tribunal to consider in support of your appeal.

1) FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST, 14 JANUARY 2016.

2) “FABRICATION IN BBC PANORAMA ‘SAVING SYRIA’S CHILDREN’” – PRINT OUT OF HOME PAGE OF MY BLOG (HTTPS://BBCPANORAMASAVINGSYRIASCHILDREN.WORDPRESS.COM/)

PLEASE NOTE THAT IN ORDER TO APPRECIATE THE DETAIL OF THE EVIDENCE POINTS PRESENTED I RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT THE TRIBUNAL PANEL FAMILIARISES ITSELF WITH THE FULL BLOG ONLINE AND FOLLOWS THE LINKS CONTAINED.

3) STATEMENT ON TWITTER (6 NOVEMBER 2015) BY DR CHRISTOPHER M. DAVIDSON, BA & MA (CAMBRIDGE); M.Litt & Ph.D (ST. ANDREWS); FHEA.

DR DAVIDSON IS READER IN MIDDLE EAST POLITICS, DURHAM UNIVERSITY AND AUTHOR OF ‘AFTER THE SHEIKHS: THE COMING COLLAPSE OF THE GULF MONARCHIES’ (OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013):

“THIS [SAVING SYRIA’S CHILDREN] WAS SO BADLY DONE IT IS NO WONDER THAT ALL COPIES OF THE DOCUMENTARY ARE BEING PURGED FROM YOUTUBE, ETC.”

https://twitter.com/dr_davidson/status/662594313122115584

4) BLOG POST (9 MARCH 2016) BY FORMER UK AMBASSADOR CRAIG MURRAY IN WHICH MR MURRAY LINKS TO VIDEO OF THE RECENT PRESENTATION I GAVE ABOUT ‘SAVING SYRIA’S CHILDREN’ AND IN WHICH MR MURRAY STATES:

“LET ME PIN MY COLOURS TO THE MAST AND SAY THAT I AM ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED THAT THE BBC DID DELIBERATELY AND KNOWINGLY FAKE EVIDENCE OF CHEMICAL ATTACKS.”

HTTPS://WWW.CRAIGMURRAY.ORG.UK/ARCHIVES/2016/03/MODERATE-REBELS-USE-YELLOW-PHOSPHORUS-KURDS-ALEPPO/

5) “IN THE AGE OF MEDIA MANIPULATION HOW MUCH CAN WE AFFORD TO TAKE ON TRUST? – OFFGUARDIAN WEBSITE, 22 SEPTEMBER 2015 (HTTP://OFF-GUARDIAN.ORG/2015/09/22/IN-THE-AGE-OF-MEDIA-MANIPULATION-HOW-MUCH-CAN-WE-AFFORD-TO-TAKE-ON-TRUST/)

THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES AN OFCOM FINDING AGAINST A TELEVISION PROGRAMME BY BROADCASTER RT WHICH EXPLORED THE ISSUES SURROUNDING THE BBC’S REPORTS. PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT ENDORSE THE CONSTRUCTION THAT BOTH RT AND OFFGUARDIAN PUT UPON THE EDITING OF DR. ROLA HALLAM’S WORDS. HOWEVER THE ARTICLE DOES DEMONSTRATE THAT THE OFCOM FINDING IS, BY IT’S OWN ADMISSION, IN NO WAY A DEFENCE OF THE BBC MATERIAL AT ISSUE.

6) “MORE PUZZLES ABOUT BBC’S “SAVING SYRIA’S CHILDREN” DOCUMENTARY” – OFFGUARDIAN WEBSITE, 27 OCTOBER 2015 (HTTP://OFF-GUARDIAN.ORG/2015/10/27/MORE-PUZZLES-ABOUT-BBCS-SAVING-SYRIAS-CHILDREN-DOCUMENTARY/)

7) DR SALEYHA AHSAN: CONTRADICTIONS IN ACCOUNTS OF ALLEGED INCENDIARY BOMB ATTACK – PRINT OUT OF POST ON MY BLOG, 23 MARCH 2016

8) IAN PANNELL: CONTRADICTIONS IN ACCOUNTS OF ALEPPO SCHOOL BOMB ATTACK – PRINT OUT OF POST ON MY BLOG, 26 APRIL 2016.

10) Declaration

Signature of person appealing or their representative:

Date 26 APRIL 2016

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3 responses to “‘Saving Syria’s Children’ FOI request – appeal to General Regulatory Chamber

  1. Jai Goodman

    Kudos to you, my Friend. Commendable job!

  2. Pingback: Saving Syria’s Children: Tribunal Upholds BBC’s Rejection of “Freedom of Information” Request | Counter Information

  3. Pingback: BBC Panorama As Propaganda? Controversy over Saving Syria’s Children | Tim Hayward

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