Follow up email to Emily Thornberry re: BBC Panorama team embedded with jihadist group

From: Robert Stuart
Sent: Wed 20/09/2017 20:50
Subject: Re: BBC Panorama team embedded with jihadi group co-founded by senior bin Laden courier

Dear Emily

Please could you confirm receipt of my email of 17 August below and advise me of any action you have taken to date.

I would like to know if Ian Pannell and Darren Conway were aware of the connections between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda*, and of Ahrar al-Sham’s participation, alongside ISIS, in the mass killing and kidnapping of civilians on 5 August 2013, when they travelled with them on 26 August 2013. If they were not, as journalists, why were they not?

Was the BBC Panorama editorial team aware of the arrangements that Pannell and Conway had made with Ahrar al-Sham? If they were not, why not?

Was BBC license fee payers’ money paid to the al-Qaeda affiliated Ahrar al-Sham?

Bearing in mind his links to violent factions in the Syrian conflict and his publicly expressed partisan sentiments, did the BBC’s employment of “Fixer/Translator” Mughira Al Sharif breach the corporation’s Editorial Guidelines?

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stuart

* In addition to Ahrar al-Sham’s foundational link to “one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted couriers”, as noted in my blog post of 9 July 2017 at the time Saving Syria’s Children was produced Ahrar al-Sham was, according to Stanford University, “coordinating operations with its closest ally”, the al-Nusra Front. Wikipedia states that the al-Nusra Front, also known as “al-Qaeda in Syria”, was “the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda until July 2016, when it ostensibly split”.

Media on Trial with John Pilger

It’s a huge honour to be sharing a platform with renowned veteran journalist and documentary film maker John Pilger, former UK ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, independent journalist Vanessa BeeleyPatrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire, Professor Piers Robinson of the University of Sheffield and Professor Tim Hawyard of the University of Edinburgh at the next Media on Trial event in London on Thursday 19 October, organised by Frome Stop War.  Full details below. 

Media on Trial John Pilger poster

  • Thursday 19 October 2017, 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EP. Map here.
  • Tickets (£5 – £10) available here

What should we expect from the mainstream media? Accurate reporting? Impartial analysis? Speaking truth to power? At times of proposed war or foreign intervention the public has a right to expect all these.

Establishment media tends to be dismissive of independent journalism. With its greater size and influence the mainstream media (MSM) has avoided critical questions about its own reporting and journalistic standards and deflects calls for corroboration, verification and independent analysis.

The leviathan that is the mainstream media has formed the narrative and stifled dissent but that’s going to change. Our panel of seven experts including legendary investigative journalist John Pilger, will be applying the scrutiny to mainstream media reporting which we should all demand, given its power to sway opinion when our government is seeking consent for war.

Specific instances of falsehoods which have led to disastrous and deadly campaigns will be highlighted with fact based evidence. Examples of insidious propagandist reporting for war will be analysed.

It’s time to hear ‘the other side’ – the one that the mainstream media blocks from the airwaves and print media.

Panel: John Pilger, Vanessa Beeley, retired British diplomat Peter Ford, Patrick Henningsen, Professor Piers Robinson, Robert Stuart and Professor Tim Hayward.