Former UK ambassador: BBC “exaggerated” and reshot Syria scenes



In a 27 January 2017 talk for the Edinburgh Scottish National Party Club former UK ambassador Craig Murray appears to reveal that contacts within the BBC have admitted to him that events featured in Ian Pannell and Darren Conway’s 29 August 2013 BBC News report about an incendiary attack on a Syrian school were “exaggerated” and that some parts were “filmed again”.

The relevant portion of the talk commences at 57:37:

I think there’s been an awful lot on the BBC that’s simply been deliberate propaganda and when they had the debate on bombing Syria – the idea that bombing Syria would help stop people dying – in the run up to that debate you remember we were having almost every BBC news bulletin was full of stories of the Syrian government forces killing civilians, whereas our own bombs never do, apparently, and I think that push for war by the BBC was really very worrying.

There was one particular thing that I blogged about myself [1] and on which other people have done a lot of work where I just happened to notice that on two different news bulletins, a female – an item the BBC had done about a chemical weapons attack on a school in Syria, it was extremely emotive, on two different news bulletins the doctor speaking had said different things, ostensibly the same sentence, ostensibly filmed at exactly the same time, but with different words in it, one said “napalm” and one said “chemical weapons” and her mouth was hidden by her doctor’s mask so you couldn’t actually see her lips move, it was kind of voice over going on and yet it appeared to be a “breaking news” news item of everything happening before you almost live – and dug down into that quite a lot and the footage was used again on a Panorama programme the BBC did [2], which was very much, undoubtedly it was designed to stoke an emotive appeal to British military intervention in Syria, that was the purpose of it and it became plain that there just were a number of things in that video that weren’t right.

Now I have friends in the BBC and in Panorama itself in fact and what I’m told happened, which I think I believe is the truth – I mean there’s some people who believe that the whole thing was, the entire thing was a setup, that the whole bombings and things never happened at all and the whole thing was just set up with actors – I don’t think that is true I think what happened was that they were filming when something had happened, they rather exaggerated how bad the incident was and bits of it they filmed again because they didn’t get it clearly or it wasn’t exactly as they wanted and it seems to me that there’s a line here that’s been crossed because if you’re doing something that’s supposed to be news and you’ve got someone bringing in someone on a stretcher you can’t say “right, sorry, can we have another take?” and get them to bring him in on the stretcher again and that’s what was happening, so no matter how real the incident on which the thing was based what we were seeing was a fictionalised account posing as real life and that, to me the BBC has been crossing that kind of line quite regularly in its coverage in Syria. [3]

In discussion of the same incident in a blog post of 9 March 2016 Mr Murray stated:

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.

In a March 2014 email [4] to One World Media, when Ian Pannell and the “Chemical School Attack” report were nominated for awards, Mr Murray wrote:

I am obliged to say, having personally been in my career in rather similar conflict situations, I was struck by the strange absence of panic and screaming both by patients and surrounding family – I have seen people in that sort of pain and situation and they are not that quiet and stoic, in any culture.


[1] The relevant posts are:

[2] Saving Syria’s Children, broadcast 30 September 2013 (relevant section commences 30:38). For analysis of the scenes of alleged incendiary bomb victims and wider investigation of the alleged events featured in the programme and in associated BBC reports see the home page of this blog and this presentation on You Tube.

[3] Further concerns about Ian Pannell and Darren Conway’s Syria coverage are noted here.

[4] Mr Murray has previously granted me permission to publish his email online. The extract above is now copied on the home page of this blog.

About Robert Stuart

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

2 responses to “Former UK ambassador: BBC “exaggerated” and reshot Syria scenes

  1. Pingback: BBC Falsely Claimed Incendiary Bomb Victim “Died on His Way to Hospital in Turkey” | Counter Information

  2. Pingback: Mentiras que matan: Operaciones de guerra desde los medios | Un lugar en la blogósfera

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