BBC Trust says Panorama 'must apologise to Primark'

Torin Douglas
Former media correspondent

image copyrightPA
image captionThe BBC Trust looked at if scenes of child labourers making Primark clothes had been staged

This round-up of today's main media stories focuses on the ruling that the BBC must apologise for its Panorama documentary on Primark.

The Independent says BBC journalism was plunged into one of its deepest crises since the Hutton report of 2004 yesterday, when the governing BBC Trust questioned the authenticity of footage broadcast by Panorama in an investigation into the ethical standards of the fashion giant Primark. The director of BBC News Helen Boaden went on the broadcaster's news channel to apologise after the Trust found that "on the balance of probabilities", footage broadcast in 2008 claiming to show Primark using child labour in India "was not authentic".

Paul Lister, Primark's legal chief, tells the Guardian that the BBC is responsible for making the retailer the "poster boy of child labour", after a section of a Panorama documentary exposing alleged breaches of its ethical guidelines was found "more likely than not" to be not genuine. Lister criticised the BBC for taking so long to find in its favour when evidence casting doubt on some of the video material has been in the corporation's possession since before the documentary first aired in 2008.

A leading article in the Daily Telegraph says the BBC owes Primark more than an apology. "When it comes to the reporting of business in general, errors of judgment are almost invariably skewed in one direction: towards the evils - real, imagined or exaggerated - of capitalism. Again and again, the BBC presents anti-business lobby groups as impartial 'experts' in stories involving multinational corporations and the environment."

But Roy Greenslade says in the Guardian the Primark decision by the BBC Trust is baffling. "It goes against natural justice to find against the journalist and producers on what it calls the balance of probabilities. Dan McDougall is an intrepid, award-winning investigative reporter with a superb record in exposing human rights violations. Frank Simmonds is an experienced producer who has been responsible for many important revelatory Panorama programmes. Yet this so-called judgment puts a black mark against their names on the most tenuous of grounds."

Editors and newspaper proprietors should face prison if their titles are found to have carried out phone hacking, the Labour peer and television personality Lord Sugar said yesterday. The Independent says Lord Sugar told the House of Lords it was "ludicrous" to suggest that the editor of a national title did not know whether voicemail interception had been used to obtain stories. His demand came as Rupert Murdoch's News International announced it had appointed a former High Court judge, Sir Charles Gray, to preside over its compensation scheme for victims of eavesdropping by the News of the World.

The Guardian and Observer lost £33m in cash terms last year, the chief executive of Guardian Media Group has said, as he committed the newspaper group to a "digital-first" strategy in which digital revenues would double to nearly £100m by 2016. The Guardian reports that Andrew Miller told staff that the aim was to achieve "a major transformation" because "doing nothing was not an option".

The announcement that Ayman Al-Zawahiri had succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of al-Qaeda receives plenty of analysis in the newspapers, as reported in the BBC's newspaper review.