Saturday, 11 June 2016

Was Nigel right?

John Sweeney

Last night's Newsnight carried a report from John Sweeney which Evan Davis introduced as a "disturbing" update on a story they'd covered previously.

John Sweeney reported that an 18-year-old man, from one of the Syrian refugee families which the programme followed after the UK government granted them asylum last year and brought them into the country from a camp in Jordan, has been in court, alongside two other men, charged with sexual assault against a 14 year old girl. One of them has also been charged with sexually assaulting a second 14 year old girl, and a fourth man has been charged with assault too (no further details given). All of them, John Sweeney said, are "believed to be Syrian" and all the names read out were Muslim names. All have pleaded 'not guilty'. A fifth man is on bail and a sixth has been released without charge. 

"We will of course follow developments in that case", Evan Davis said at the end of the report.

This is to their credit. They could have ignored the story - as people on 'blogs like this' might have assumed they would - but they didn't. 

And, as John Sweeney's report made clear, the outcome of this trial could have major repercussions for the government's refugee resettlement programme and for the "fraught issue" of immigration (and, unspoken, of Muslim immigration in particular).

I've seen a comment elsewhere about this that I really ought to have let go by without comment but just can't, because it does what people on some 'anti-BBC blogs' have an unfortunate tendency to do (and that's beginning to bother me again)....

Instead of giving any credit to Newsnight for 'breaking the story' to a nationwide audience, they leaped straightaway onto carping about it instead, implying that the programme was 'burying the story' by relegating it to "the last 5 minutes of the programme" (actually it was the second story after the EU referendum and began 22 minutes in, with another story - Muhammad Ali's funeral - to follow) and that "for some reason it wasn’t shown further up the running list".

Why do people do that?

John Sweeney's report was, understandably, very carefully worded. He mentioned that Nigel Farage's comments last week about migrants and sex attacks (in the wake of Cologne) had been "widely condemned" but he left unspoken the obvious point that Mr. F's comments will look a good deal less easy to condemn if this court case finds the accused guilty. 


  1. Can`t figure out John Sweeney,
    His North Korea Panorama was a nadir, where he hid behind his wifes LSE Student trip to film undercover over there-putting students at risk surreptitiously to no purpose-he filmed for only a few minutes and most of it was rehashed stock footage.
    Not much better was his screaming rants at the (admittedly odious) Scientologists-utter rubbish.
    But then he`s only recently been hounding Ian Lavery from Labour for dipping his wick into Union funds of dying miners-and his report last night was fair too.
    A curates egg then.

  2. I think Sweeney's fairly sound on the ROP ie doesn't believe it's an ROP! :) Evan D had to use a very sad Paddington Bear face to introduce that item on almost expected him to admonish the class that "this isn't a laughing no sniggering at the back there"

  3. 'Getting It About Right'. Sometimes, reality forces the BBC to cover certain stories they've been avoiding for years. But how many is this one broadcast versus how many of all the stories they have ignored or decided against reporting for fear?

    Most important, was this story introduced and done with an impartial tone, and no Tiny Minority™ message?