Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Tuesday, 4 December, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Dec 07, 06:16 PM


southall203x100.jpgWe've just learned that the controversial paediatrician Dr David Southall has been struck off the medical register for serious professional misconduct. Last week the GMC decided he had abused his position by accusing a mother of drugging and murdering her son. John Sweeney was the BBC's investigative reporter who revealed flaws in the case against Sally Clarke. Her verdict was subsequently overturned. Tonight John will be reporting for Newsnight on where this leaves the role of expert witnesses.


As I write we are also discussing in the Newsnight office how we will cover the story of the release of a new video by the kidnappers of five Britons who have been held in Iraq since May. In the video the kidnappers demand that Britain withdraws all its forces from Iraq within ten days. The Foreign Office has confirmed that the hostage in the video is one of the British people who were kidnapped. He sat underneath a sign reading “The Islamic Shiite Resistance in Iraq”. The video has been condemned by the government.


“Very thorough and very damning" - that was the reaction of Graham Knight the father of Sergeant Ben Knight, to the report into the Nimrod crash which killed his son and 13 other service personnel when the plane blew up over Afghanistan.
The report concluded a fuel leak was probably to blame and the defence secretary apologised to MPs, victims and their families for “failings for which the Ministry of Defence must take responsibility". These planes are still flying because they are a key component of our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and allegedly incidents of fuel leaks are continuing in their dozens. I hope to be speaking to a defence minister.


And at this time of year we return to some of the big stories and issues Newsnight has led the way on during the past 12 months. In a series of films we have examined “Broken Britain". Tonight we report from Wythenshawe a few miles south of Manchester which was built as a Garden City in the 1920s, but now this post-industrial, largely white working class community is struggling with gangs, knives, drugs and guns.

We are also keen to hear from you - do you think crime is really falling?

Confessions of a Newsnight insider

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Dec 07, 03:37 PM

Jeremy Paxman bought me dinner last night.
Canapés, candlelight, cocktail music..? Yeah, right.
He thrusts a £20 note at me, its silver strip catching the fierce fluorescents in his office and says, “I’ll have the meal deal - and get something for yourself”.
Then with that trademark televisual twinkle in his eye he adds, ‘And don’t ever say I don’t buy you dinner!’
The 6.30 food order is something of a NN office ritual. Nearly everything we do is deadline driven and the idea of downing tools and sloping off somewhere to eat for an hour is a tad quaint.

Angry hacks

OK, we’re not talking Victorian children snatching a scoop of porridge at one end of the loom before weaving their way back again. But you do see harried journos biting off more than they can chew while trying to craft a video package for your later consumption.
As the office junior - admittedly one of the Beeb’s more senior juniors - it falls on me to place the food order. You’d think that being the Arch-Nourisher of NN would put me in a privileged position, but a hungry man is an angry man and you can’t please all of the hacks all of the time.

Get your hands off my falafels

One might be delayed in a legal meeting while another is itching to eat before being stuck in the studio for a pre-show recording. Added to which, if you don’t keep enough people on board there’s a danger of losing the free delivery.
So many variables, so little time...
But it’s all in a 13-hour day’s work and a newsroom marches on its stomach. Plus, there’s nothing like the wonder in a reporter’s eye when those foil food parcels arrive. It’s only slightly tainted as she says, ‘Jeremy - have you got hold of my falafels?’
Which brings us back to Mr P’s proffered £20 note.
I can’t prove it, but I swear that under the glare of the strip lights, on the flip side of Her Majesty, Adam Smith’s winking at me.

Crime and statistics

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Dec 07, 02:35 PM

crime_generic.jpgThe statistics tell us that crime is falling. Politicians tell us that we are now less likely to become victims of crime.

It’s a rosy picture – but is it accurate? Are we really safer? Or is crime still an issue which keeps us awake at night? Ahead of our special report from the Wythenshawe estate we’d like to hear from you about your experience – is crime really under control?

Tuesday's prospects

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Dec 07, 10:26 AM

wendy203x100.jpgDonations - there will be an opposition debate today on party funding, and pressure is increasing on Wendy Alexander and now Peter too.

Nimrod inquiry into crash over Afghanistan in which 14 servicemen died - it was the biggest single loss of life since the Falklands.

Iran - Bush presser this afternoon. Israel disputes the US intelligence assessment. What are the implications of the report for diplomatic relations between US and Iran?

And we have Zaiba Malik's film from Wythenshawe in Greater Manchester. Once a peaceful, prosperous garden city, now like many other estates the area is facing social breakdown, crime and drug abuse. The piece explores how the white working class community there is trying to deal with its problems.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites