BBC Panorama: Protecting the rich white man?

On Tuesday night the BBC aired an extremely controversial hour long Panorama special titled: ‘The VIP Paedophile Ring: What’s the Truth.’ Ever since the death of Jimmy Savile in 2011, the BBC has been dogged by rumours of a cover up. Allegations have emerged that the BBC knew and did nothing in regards to Savile as well as other prominent members of the British establishment.

Panorama resolved to include only “cold hard facts” in their report of the VIP paedophile ring. This meant criticising Exaro News’ work on and lamenting the victims of abuse who have bravely come forward despite knowing the scrutiny they would receive from the media. Unquestionably, the BBC and any other media organisation have every right to scrutinize and question people when such allegations are laid bare, however, it seems to be the case that the BBC will never see themselves or the current establishment as nothing less then whiter than white despite such prolific evidence to the contrary.

Former BBC Producer Meirion Jones
Former BBC Producer Meirion Jones

Following Tuesday nights broadcast, former BBC producer Meirion Jones revealed how the BBCs attitude to victims of alleged abuse has not changed since the Savile affair. Jones stated that the BBC had behaved “disgracefully” in the treatment of victims of historic child sexual abuse, in an interview he said: ” There are still people at the BBC trying to make the case that you can’t trust victims and therefore they were right not to run the Savile programme.”

In 2015, after he had died Leon Britain was accused of
In 2015, after he had died Leon Britain was accused of “multiple child rape”.

However, BBC executives have rejected Jones’ claims stating that the broadcaster should not allow the need to atone for mistakes of the past to stop good journalism. Whilst the BBC seems to find it simple to disbelieve the allegations put forward by victims of abuse, the broadcaster fails to remember that Conservative party whip Tim Fortescue admitted in a documentary broadcasted by the BBC in 1995, that abuses involving “small boys” and MPs occurred up to and during the 1970s. [Click here to find the video] Instead of protecting the boys they would instead “store brownie points” over the MP child abusers in order to maintain political control. In 1984 a dossier on paedophiles which was allegedly associated with the British government was handed by MP Geoffrey Dickens to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan, a man accused of multiple child rape. The document was described by Dickens to have the potential to “blow the lid off” the lives of notable child abusers. Although Brittan reportedly told Dickens that he would hand the file to the police, the police later noted that they had no record of any investigation into the allegations. The whereabouts of this dossier are now unknown.

A looming shadow still hangs over the British parliament. David Cameron has tried multiple times to keep a cover over child abuse allegations coming out of parliament. Last year the British Prime Minister called victims of child abuse “conspiracy theorists” when referring to the findings of a review into the allegations of a VIP paedophile ring within parliament. David Cameron has also claimed that naming paedophiles in the cabinet amounts to a “homophobic witch hunt”. Clearly, Cameron seems to be doing everything possible to divert the attention away from parliament when the topic of VIP paedophiles occurs. The Prime Minister has not yet commented on the Panorama documentary.

Since the airing of the Panorama documentary, Scotland Yard has accused both the BBC and Exaro News of hampering its investigations into historical child sexual abuse. Scotland Yard has stated that the BBC documentary may deter victims of abuse form coming forward, they said: “We believe there’s a distinction to be made between fair comment and impacting on victims and witnesses in a way that may damage them or a criminal investigation.” In a 810 word statement Scotland Yard explained how Jimmy Savile, who was propelled to fame by the BBC, should be an example to illustrate the dangers if potential witnesses are deterred from coming forward. It seems to be the common thought that the BBC have not learned from the past and the Jimmy Savile inquiries.

Exaro News editor, Mark Watts
Exaro News editor, Mark Watts

Much of the public was in uproar following Tuesday nights broadcast. Twitter users voiced their anger and discontent on the social media platform. Many claimed that the BBC are continuing to cover-up VIP paedophiles and that the egotistical way in which they titled their programme as ‘the truth’ is a nail in the coffin to victims of child abuse everywhere, although, some users praised the BBC for there no nonsense look at the story. Exaro News, who have been a key component in uncovering historic child abuse crimes were continuously made to look unreliable by Panorama. Exaro News editor, Mark Watts, explained that in the build up to the airing of Panorama’s Tuesday night broadcast, Panorama planned to smear survivors of child sexual abuse.

How the BBC will report the subject of VIP paedophiles in the future is intriguing to say the least. It is clear that there was widespread dismay and criticism leveled at the BBC and Panorama after their latest report. Post Jimmy Savile it was thought that the BBC would change their line of action in regards to historic sexual abuse victims, but Tuesday nights broadcast showed that this is simply not the case. The bottom line amidst all the constant bickering between Exaro, the BBC, the police and parliament is that the feelings and thoughts of the victims should be put at the forefront. The BBC and other media organisations will continue to put forward the claim that victims are unreliable just as suspects will continue to deny the allegations, but the most important fact is that thousands of victims have come forward regarding historic abuse allegations and the BBC can not and should not sweep this under the rug any longer.

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