West Midlands Police and Channel 4.
The Press Association reports:
"Media watchdog Ofcom has rejected complaints by West Midlands Police about a Channel 4 undercover programme that exposed extremism in British mosques. Police claimed that the Dispatches programme had misrepresented the views of Muslim preachers and clerics with misleading editing. Following today's ruling, the broadcaster called the police's actions "perverse" and said they had, in some people's eyes, given "legitimacy to
people preaching a message of hate". Ofcom said: "Undercover Mosque was a legitimate investigation, uncovering
matters of important public interest. "Ofcom found no evidence that the broadcaster had misled the audience or that
the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity. "On the evidence (including untransmitted footage and scripts), Ofcom found that the broadcaster had accurately represented the material it had gathered and
dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context."
I'll be recording an interview with Ofcom on this story in the next half hour. Here is a link so you can read the Ofcom stuff for yourself. It's on page 9.
1310 UPDATE:: And here is the draft of how we're planning to tell the story tonight:
"It must be one of the most analysed pieces of television in recent years.
This Despatches documentary for Channel 4, entitled "undercover mosque".
The programme was broadcast in January and claimed to have uncovered extremism in British mosques. The programme included excerpts from preachers and teachers such as "allah created the woman deficient"; "it takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the witness of the man"; "take that homosexual and throw him off the mountain", and "whoever changes his religion from Al Islam to to anything else - kill him in the Islamic state".
After the programme went out, West Midlands police investigated whether any of the people featured had committed a criminal offence.
But the police ended up investigating the programme's makers: had they distorted the views of participants during the editing process?
The Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was insufficient evidence that racial hatred had been stirred up as a result of the programme. So West Midlands Police complained to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Today Ofcom ruled on the police complaint, and on 364 others. It ruled in favour of Channel 4.
I've been hearing from (TITLE) of Ofcom, Ed Richards.
The National Secular Society said it wanted to know why West Midlands Police had conducted a "witch hunt" against the programme makers. For the Liberal Democrats Don Foster has written to the force asking why it had targetted Channel 4. He said: "Public figures should have thought twice before instantly damning Channel 4
for conducting what turns out to be a scrupulous piece of journalistic investigation into a matter of significant public interest." For the Conservatives, David Davis called it a "serious misjudgment to continue to pursue the editorial team and risked impeding freedom of speech."