Controversy and conspiracies
Are some conspiracy theories just too controversial to discuss publicly? We've spent the past few months investigating whether there is any truth to the many theories that have grown up about the London bombings of 7 July 2005. The results of our investigation will be shown as part of the Conspiracy Files series on BBC Two in the Autumn.
But were you to believe what some publications have recently written about our documentary (eg the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Spectator and others) you would be forgiven for thinking that we shouldn't be making the programme at all.
But conspiracy theories about the London bombings are an important public issue.
The stakes are high because conspiracy theories are spreading suspicion about the official account of what happened, ultimately questioning whether the authorities can be trusted. Establishing whether what is argued is true or false, and scrutinising the way proponents conduct themselves, is clearly in the public interest and is a serious and legitimate task for the BBC.
Last year one opinion poll found that around one in four British Muslims do not believe that the four men identified as the 7/7 bombers by the authorities actually carried out the attacks. It is perhaps not surprising that the Metropolitan Police themselves have acknowledged the importance of tackling conspiracy theories about 7/7.
As programme makers we need to be sensitive to the feelings of the families of those who were killed in the bombings and to the survivors. But this should not stop us scrutinising conspiracy theories and the effect they are having on public confidence in the police and the government. Without such scrutiny, these theories are often treated as facts by those who find them seductive.
Some newspapers have alleged that we paid a conspiracy theorist, Nick Kollerstrom, to take part in the programme. This is not true. The BBC has covered the cost of some incidental expenses amounting to no more than £30. This includes the cost of a return train ticket from London to Luton because we asked him to film with us at the location where he had discovered a fact about the bombings - namely that the train that it had been said the bombers took to London did not run on 7 July 2005.
The BBC has also covered the cost of lunch and cups of tea on some of the days we have filmed with him. We did not cover the cost of his trip to Leeds during which he visited the family homes of some of the bombers. Along with his views of 7/7, Nick Kollerstrom's views about the Holocaust will be scrutinised and challenged in the programme.
When the documentary is broadcast in the Autumn you will have the chance to decide for yourself what the facts are about the 7/7 conspiracy theories and the theorists who promote them.