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Gary Smith | 13:26 UK time, Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Hands up if you think we sit around at the BBC having meetings about what stories we are NOT going to cover? Well here’s a surprise: if you’ve got your hand up, yes you’re right!

Not because there’s a conspiracy to protect the government – but because there are loads of stories every day across the UK and the world, and we can’t get them all on air, even if we want to. We have to make difficult choices.

Today the Independent’s Pandora column accuses the BBC of burying a new story about John Prescott – that he stayed at the home of an American billionaire keen to turn the Millennium Dome into a super-casino.

This was first reported in a newspaper on Saturday. We covered it on various programmes on Monday - on the Daily Politics, and on News 24 (rather earlier than Pandora suggests). There are now various further allegations on political blogs.

So have we got our judgement right in not doing it prominently so far – for example, as one of the 10 or so stories on BBC One’s Six O’Clock News?

I’d say yes, it’s not quite crossed that threshold yet – at the time I’m writing this - to become a major story. But we have a couple of correspondents looking at it, so if it takes off, we’ll have it on air.

And unless I’m missing something, the Independent’s own editors don’t rate it big enough to mention as a news story anywhere in today’s paper...

[Footnote: Our news website and Radio 4's World at One have covered a call by the Conservatives for the standards watchdog to investigate the allegations.]


  • 1.
  • At 06:31 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Roger wrote:

Yes, you have mentioned the story online.

Eventually, that is. It only went up late today sometime.

Personally, I think that a story concerning yet more "alleged" corruption and abuse of ministerial rules BY THE DEPUTY PM warrants coverage on your mainstream news slots.

You do not.

This is the crux of the problem.

You have to ask yourself this: if it was a Conservative government and DPM, would the BBC run the story earlier and more prominently?

I think we all know the answer to that one, don't we?


  • 2.
  • At 09:36 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • JA wrote:

Should the BBC not give out the name of the MP who it is widely alleged that JP had an affair with? This information is public interest as the woman allegedly involved has recently received a new salaried position, appointed by the government.

  • 3.
  • At 06:57 PM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • jenny wrote:

I thought you just sat round :-)

  • 4.
  • At 12:28 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Tom Maxwell wrote:

Considering the ramifications of extradition without evidence needing to be presented to UK courts the BBC’s lack of coverage of the NatWest 3 has been little short of scandalous.

I see after some criticism it’s finally on you Business page but it’s still a minor story buried away and stone the crows you even give the story a pro Blair spin.

Don’t you realize you are doing massive damage to the BBC’s reputation?

  • 5.
  • At 03:15 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Ivan wrote:

I am always amazed at the ease at which people choose to believe a conspiracy theory to a decent explanation. To the first poster above:
How does JP's visit to the ranch compare to:
- UK soldiers deaths in Afghanistan
- Iraq and all its internal crisis
- Darfur
- etc.
I think (and I do not have any political allegiance in the UK) that it is trivial!!!

Or would you still say that the lack of BBC coverage of for example the Congo means that the BBC are covering up the deteriorating security situation there and that if the government in Kinshasa was a Conservative one the BBC would cover the story better?

Anyhow, BBC editors..continue with the good work.

  • 6.
  • At 02:14 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Jill Nelson wrote:

I heartly concur with Tom Maxwell's comments. I am very disappointed that the BBC has not stood up for justice these men. One can only wonder how this would have been covered if they had not been merchant bankers. This is yet another example of the BBC's inherent left wing bias, and its toadying to Downing Street.

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