Section 6: Fairness, Contributors and Consent
Right of Reply
When our output makes allegations of wrongdoing, iniquity or incompetence or lays out a strong and damaging critique of an individual or institution the presumption is that those criticised should be given a "right of reply", that is, given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations.
We must ensure we have a record of any request for a response including dates, times, the name of the person approached and the key elements of the exchange. We should normally describe the allegations in sufficient detail to enable an informed response, and set a fair and appropriate deadline by which to respond.
Any parts of the response relevant to the allegations broadcast should be reflected fairly and accurately and should normally be broadcast in the same programme, or published at the same time, as the allegation.
There may be occasions when this is inappropriate (for legal or overriding ethical reasons) in which case a senior editorial figure, or commissioning editor for independents, should be consulted. It may then be appropriate to consider whether an alternative opportunity should be offered for a reply at a subsequent date.
(See Guidance: Right of Reply)
In very rare circumstances where we propose to broadcast a serious allegation without giving those concerned an opportunity to reply, the proposal must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor. Referral must also be made to Director Editorial Policy and Standards. The allegation must be in the public interest and there must be strong reasons for believing it to be true. Our reasons for deciding to make the information public without requesting a response from the individuals or organisations concerned may include possible interference with witnesses or other legal reasons.
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