Wednesday 17 December 2014

Taken by surprise

David Vance at Biased BBC posted early this morning about his sense that the "BBC [was] limbering up for a new bout of blackening the reputation of the British military today, ahead of the publication of the Al Sweady Inquiry report. I heard a BBC journalist intone this morning that on some occasions Iraqi combatants were…..gasp…SHOUTED at. Oh the horror".

Well, the five-year Al-Sweady Inquiry - a £31 million public inquiry - finally found today that the claims that British troops murdered, mutilated and tortured Iraqi detainees are “wholly and entirely without merit or justification” and the result of “deliberate and calculated lies” from Iraqi witnesses and detainees driven by a desire to smear the British military.

In line with David Vance's expectations of their expectations, the BBC appears to have been completely caught off guard by this judgement - as if they were already prepared with 'the headline and the story' before the report had even been published.

First version
Al-Sweady Inquiry: UK soldiers 'mistreated detainees'
2014-12-17 11:05:03 UTC
British soldiers mistreated nine Iraqi detainees after a 2004 battle, a public inquiry into alleged abuse has ruled.
Second version
Al-Sweady Inquiry: UK soldiers 'mistreated detainees'
2014-12-17 11:35:34 UTC (31 minutes later)
British soldiers mistreated nine Iraqi detainees after a 2004 battle but allegations of murder were "deliberate lies", a public inquiry has ruled.
Third version
Al-Sweady Inquiry: UK army murder claims 'deliberate lies'
2014-12-17 12:10:06 UTC (35 minutes later)
Allegations of murder and torture made against British soldiers by Iraqi detainees were "deliberate lies", a public inquiry has ruled.
As someone tweeted this morning:

Well, the answers to Mark's questions are: (a) Sky News; and (b) quite probably.


Update 18/12: A similar change occurred between The World at One and PM on Radio 4 on Wednesday afternoon.

An inquiry has found that British troops in Iraq mistreated detainees after a battle ten years ago, but it described allegations that soldiers were guilty of murder and torture as "deliberate lies".
After 5 years and more than £25 million, an inquiry finds that claims that British soldiers tortured and murdered Iraqis were "deliberate lies": "This was, in fact, a shameful attempt to use our legal system to attack and falsely impugn our armed forces." 


  1. Con Coughlin - in the Telegraph - Is not very happy with the beeb either:-

    1. Indeed not. And nor were most viewers of that 'Panorama' at the time. They could see what the BBC was up to even then:-

  2. The BBC was merely "waiting for the facts to come in". The pre-determined narrative was what any right-on thinking person would expect the result to be, so no bias. From their perspective, it's the middle ground.

    No directive on high needed for this one, no scheming editorial meeting planning it all out necessary. It happens naturally, again and again.

  3. I wish all Beeboids would bugger off and go and live in North Korea. One reason the BBC hates the military (unless it is Britains' enemies' military ) is that the military and intelligence services are about the only professional organisations left in the UK, the amateurs being headed by the 3rd rate BBC.

  4. The British Army has always used torture on detainees. It clearly has done in the recent wars as it has in past wars. To suggest otherwise is naive.

    The murder charges may have been played up as a smokescreen.

    I noticed the guy on Sky who has been in a lot of war zones was being very circumspect about saying the inquiry had got it right.

    Dan Read

  5. I'd like to query the BBC coverage of the Pakistan school massacre on BBC's Radio 4 Today programme. MH - yes, it's her again - seems determined to push a line once more. This time it is "Pakistan united in grief, on the basis of shared common decency and Pakistan govenrmnet is now gearing itself up to tackle terrorism. " The softness of her interviewing technique has been in marked contrast to that reserved for UK and US politicians. It has been left to Pakistani locals to point out: Pakistan's government has actually supported terrorists like the Taliban and the Kashmiri gangs in the past. And nowhere was the "I" word used.

    Why on earth, given the Taliban explicit claim to represent true Islam, is there never any reference to the religion in these programmes? It's like covering an American school massacre with no mention of gun laws.

    I suspect as well that some of the descriptions of the terrorists must have been censored since we know they always shout religious exclamations on such occasions.

    Dan Read


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