Update - 19 April 2011: The Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust issued
on Panorama's Death in the Med following complaints. The ESC found that the programme overall was accurate and impartial but it upheld three out of 51 complaints.
18 August 2010: Panorama has received a large response to our recent programme Death in the Med, some critical - others supportive.
Among the e-mails we received were complaints from viewers who felt this programme showed bias in favour of Israel. Some viewers were unhappy about some of the video and audio footage we showed and disputed its sources. Viewers also felt that certain points regarding the flotilla raid were not documented, notably the location of the flotilla at the time of the raid. Complainants also alleged that the programme showed bias against the group in charge of the Mavi Marmara, the IHH and against the Palestinian situation in Gaza and as a whole.
We understand the strength of feeling regarding the Israel Defence Force's operation against the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010. We recognise the complexity of the subject and note its ramifications within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole.
This programme intended to explore the considerable confusion about what actually happened on the Mavi Marmara on the day in question.
Israel has been accused of breaking international law by seizing a Turkish ship. Israel says they were terrorists. Turkey insists they were innocent victims. With several inquiries underway Jane Corbin uncovered new evidence from both sides in a bid to uncover what really happened.
Jane Corbin is a world renowned journalist with 20 years experience reporting for 'Panorama' on the on-going conflict in the Middle East. She is respected for her dedicated, impartial and balanced work from both sides of the conflict and approached this subject with the same level of fairness which she is known for.
We appreciate some viewers were unhappy about the nature of the video and audio footage we showed. We can assure you that a great level of detail was involved in selecting the footage we showed. During the programme we made it clear that a variety of different sources were shown, some from the Israeli Defence Force, some from the IHH and "culturesofresitance.org" and others from individuals who were on board the Mavi Marmara on the night in question. The majority of the footage used in the programme is openly available on the internet.
All featured footage was meticulously double and cross checked to verify its accuracy, any footage of uncertain events during the raid were clearly labelled as such.
Viewers were shown a wide range of opinions and whenever a question of authenticity of footage arose, we made this clear.
We also spoke extensively to the groups and individuals involved in the incident including three Israeli commandos involved in the raid; the head of the IHH - Bulent Yildirim; the Free Gaza Coordinator on board the Mavi Marmara - Lubna Masarwa; three Turkish activists and activist Ken O'Keefe, all who were on board the Mavi Marmara on the night in question. We also spoke to Hamas official Dr Ahmed Yousef in Gaza. They were all given sufficient time and a platform to make their points.
The programme made it clear that the flotilla was still in international waters, 90 miles from Gaza. The programme also made it clear that a number of inquiries are ongoing.
Overall we dismiss claims that this programme showed bias in favour of Israel. The programme's aim was to try to uncover what really happened on the Mavi Marmara. Panorama went to great lengths to give opposing sides the opportunity to air their views and we felt the programme accordingly carried out its analysis in a fair, impartial and balanced manner. We simply allowed viewers to make up their own minds in their own time based on what they saw and heard.