Sunday 13 October 2019

Blurring the boundaries

The boundaries between reporting and campaigning at the BBC are getting ever more blurred. 

Earlier today I cited the BBC's Quentin Somerville (a brave reporter) reporting the plight of orphaned children of dead IS parents caught up in dangerous camps in Syria and calling our failure to give them sanctuary "a disgrace". 

He's been doing his absolute best today to get three orphaned young children returned to London. 

Now, he himself says that it's been "particularly hard" reporting their "traumatic testimony". And that's perfectly understandable. They are very young, their situation is awful and all the fault was with their dead parents. Rescuing children in peril is a powerful and wonderful instinct, and Quentin can't be blamed for being overwhelmed by the feeling to do so. 

But it raises all manner of questions about BBC impartiality. 

He's going further and further in expressing contentious opinions on the matter. 

His reporting of the Shamima Begum and Jack Letts cases left me in little doubt that he was wanting them returned to the UK too, and a  tweet from him this afternoon further confirms that:
The SDF repeatedly told Britain to take back the likes of Shamima Begum and Jack Letts. Instead the UK stripped them of their citizenship. It was never a sustainable policy in the long term.
Has he overstepped the bounds, impartiality-wise? And, if he has, is he right to do so? 

Discuss (if you wish).


  1. Yes. No (no more required).

  2. He's not right at all.
    All he needs to do is contact the UNHCR in private and explain the situation.
    What he's doing is for the viewer's benefit, and his career, not for the kids benefit. He'll win an award, and unnecessary attention will be brought to bear on the kids. Another set of cartoon characters created to accomodate a narrative.

    The question that struck me during his report was this.
    Where and who is the referred to Grandmother ?

    The 10 year old spoke near fluent English after these 5 years. The kids know their forenames, so they presumably know their surnames (very important in Arab muslim culture).
    So how difficult would it be to track down the family ?

    3 kids, forenames known, ages known, born and presumably registered in the UK.
    Too tricky for the authorities ?


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