Newsnight (BBC2), News at 6 & News at Ten (BBC 1), PM (Radio 4) 22 March 2012; Newsnight (BBC 2) 23 March 2012; “Leaked document suggests ‘systematic fraud’ at A4e”, - Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit


Newsnight investigated claims that A4e (a company contracted by the DWP to place people in employment) had failed to provide the DWP with material relating to an internal report which had identified numerous instances of potentially fraudulent or irregular conduct by employees of the company.  An item was broadcast in the 22 March 2012 edition of Newsnight, and the story was also covered that day on, in PM and in both evening news bulletins on BBC1.  The 23 March edition of Newsnight included a short follow-up item.  A4e complained that it had not been given sufficient time to respond or adequate information about the allegations to be aired, and argued that the coverage had been unfair and misleading in various respects.



A4e had been given enough time and information to respond to Newsnight’s enquiries (it had agreed to a deadline of 5.00pm on 22 March, and in the event provided a response shortly after 6.00pm), and its complaint identified nothing in the coverage which had been unfair and misleading. However, it had not been informed that the story was likely to run on outlets substantially earlier than Newsnight, which affected its right of reply in relation to the two reports (in PM and on which preceded the arrival of its response.  In addition, a report provided by Newsnight to the BBC News website incorrectly said that A4e had declined to respond, and the follow-up item in 23 March edition of Newsnight did not reflect the key point of the A4e response received the previous day.

Partly upheld

Further action

The relevant teams have been briefed on the need for clarity on the status and timing of rights of reply when sharing material with other outlets.