Update April 2020: The man discussed below has been identified by a former BBC employee as a member of the BBC High Risk Team. I am withholding his name on this blog.
A western male in a grey shirt and spectacles appears at 2:06 in Ian Pannell’s BBC News report of 30 September 2013. He is carrying a camera and ducks out of sight as he realises that he is in shot with the BBC’s interview with Dr Rola Hallam.
The same man can be seen fleetingly at several other points in the related Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children, carrying the same bulky camera:
- At 31:39, checking a device in his right hand, as alleged casualties are rushed into the hospital. The same shot is also at 1:53 in the BBC 10 O’Clock News report of 30 September 2013.
- At 35:37, barrelling past Victim X‘s stretcher towards Atareb Hospital gate:
- And at 35:52 using a walkie-talkie:
The presence of this person at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 would appear perplexing, as at no point in its correspondence on the matter has the BBC suggested that the Panorama crew in Syria at that time consisted of anyone other than reporter Ian Pannell, cameraman/producer Darren Conway and fixer/translator Mughira Al Sharif, plus presumably non-western drivers/minders.
In an appeal review request of 28 December 2014 another complainant directly asked the BBC to identify the man in the images below. In its rejection of this request the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee ignored this question, along with several other potentially significant points.
In an email of 22 March 2015 the editor of Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’, Tom Giles, stated:
I have no idea who the man pictured is. He may be either working with the medical charity we were filming with or at the hospital where the patients are being delivered. As far as I’m aware he’s not someone working for BBC Panorama – though it’s perfectly possible he’s a BBC News safety advisor as BBC News (whom Ian and Darren normally work for) have to use security advisors in Category One hostile areas like Syria because it’s so bloody dangerous. We don’t normally name them as it’s sensitive for their own long-term security.
It seems perhaps odd that a BBC safety adviser – or an employee of Atareb Hospital or the charity Hand in Hand for Syria – should be carrying a camera and should apparently be concerned about appearing on camera and/or obstructing an interview while in the midst of an alleged “mass casualty event“.
Update: a second figure carrying a walkie-talkie has been discovered in footage from the events of 26 August 2013 – see this post.
Update: The male in the grey shirt and spectacles seems to be the same who can be seen accompanying Ian Pannell at 42 seconds in this earlier BBC News report (see screencap below). This would appear to endorse Tom Giles’ speculation that the man may be a BBC News safety adviser however it may not explain why he would be carrying a camera nor his concern, during an alleged mass casualty situation, to avoid interrupting a filmed interview with Dr Rola Hallam.
Possibly the same man can be seen speaking to Dr Rola Hallam at the start of this short video as they incongruously stroll upstairs in the midst of what Dr Hallam later described as a “mass casualty event“.