22/10/2012 Newsnight


Featuring reports on the Jimmy Savile scandal and the woes of David Cameron. Plus, an interview with disgraced media mogul Conrad Black, and meet the dictator of Belarus.

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Not just the left hand not knowing what the right was doing, but each


actively landing blows on the other. To scenes of commission and


omission, the BBC today added a confession of incompetence. Its


justification for not broadcasting the accusations of child sex abuse


on this programme, was significantly inaccurate. Why?


weren't asked to find more evidence, or anything like that, we weren't


asked to get more people on camera, we were told to stop working on the


story. A former editor of ITN and a former


editor of this programme, are here to debate what went wrong.


And then we talk to Conrad Lord Black, once one of the world's most


powerful media magnates, now convicted for fraud and now mad as


hell. I have gone through the process of being falsely charged


and vindicated without losing my mind, and being able to endure a


discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face


in. He's a smoothie compared to our final guest, the President of


Belarus, is the Europe's final dictator, and happy to stay that


way. TRANSLATION: America want to democratise us, why not democratise


Saudi Arabia? Because they are bastards, they are their bastards.


It has been a bad day for the BBC, but it can, at least, take some


comfort, from the fact that much of the damage was done by the BBC. We


are no further forward on the really important issue of whether


the BBC and other organisations failed to protect vulnerable


children from an aggressive, egotistical child molester, called


Jimmy Savile. This programme investigated the claims almost a


year ago, and never broadcast what it found out. That decision was


taken by our editor, and most of us knew nothing much about it until


very recently. The Newsnight editor, incidently, also had nothing to do


with tonight's programme, because he's not around. But the BBC


conceded today that his account of what happened was wrong in key


claims. It has taken 20 days for the BBC to get around to


acknowledging that. And an independent inquiry will now judge


why his account was wrongs. Here is the summary.


For the last three weeks this programme has been at the centre of


what has been called the worst crisis in 50 years at the BBC. The


decision by Newsnight's editor, Peter Rippon, to drop an


investigation into allegations of child abuse by Jimmy Savile, is now


the subject of an independent inquiry. As you watch this,


Panorama, on BBC 1 is broadcasting interviews with members of the


Newsnight team, who worked on the original investigation. They say


they warned Peter Rippon last year about the consequences of dropping


this story. I was sure the story would come out one way or another,


and if it did, the BBC would be accused of a cover-up. I wrote an


e-mail to Peter saying, "the story is strong enough, and the danger of


not running is substantial damage to BBC reputation". The BBC today


admitted that a blog written by Rippon three weeks ago, explaining


his decision to drop the investigation, was "inaccurate" or


"incomplete in some respects", it is those errors that have forced


him to step aside as editor of Newsnight, until an investigation


chaired by the former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard, reports back.


Three main errors with the blog, were finally identified today.


Crucially these mistakes were left uncorrected for three week, while


BBC managers repeated some of them. Peter Rippon's blog said Newsnight


had no evidence against the BBC. But, in fact, the Newsnight team's


key witness had claimed that some abuse, by Savile and others, took


place on BBC premises. The inquiry will have to ask Peter Rippon why


he didn't judge that this stuet instituted evidence against the BBC


-- institute -- constituted evidence against the BBC. A lot of


people are saying RIH, which is "rot in hell". This is a former


pupil of Duncroft Approved School, a school Jimmy Savile visited


readily. Today the BBC corrected its saying that no-one should have


known about allegation, they corrected that saying allegations


were made, mostly in general terms, by staff, who may have known about


the abuse. Finally, the original blog post said did they withhold


evidence from the police, and they said, no, they were confident that


all the women they spoke to had contacted the police independently.


But the BBC said today that in some cases the women had not spoken to


the police and the police were not aware of all the allegations. This


is important, because we now know that Karin Ward, Newsnight's key


witness, hadn't spoken to the police, and did make allegations


against another celebrity. Gary Glitter was one example. He was


particularly horrible. And only interested in getting as much sex


as he could possibly get from any girl. I can remember seeing him


having sex with one of the girls from Duncroft. In Jimmy Savile's


dressing room. Which was packed with lots of people. Was Jimmy


Savile there? Yeah. He would have known what was going on? Oh yes, he


laughed about it, he thought it was funny.


The Jimmy Savile investigation was a high-profile story of the most


sensitive kind. So why would the editor of Newsnight make a public


statement, that it now turns out was incorrect. We haven't heard


Peter Rippon's side of the story, and we probably won't, while he's


the subject of a BBC investigation. Welcome to Top Of The Pops. Then


there is a wider question, about the way in which the BBC has dealt


with this aspect of the Savile scandal. In the days after the blog


post, the two Newsnight journalists behind the original report sent e-


mails to their editor, and senior BBC managers, including the


director-general. They made it clear to their superiors they felt


the blog and other public statements were inaccurate.


It is obviously very damaging that the BBC has had to put out a


statement, saying the initial explanation, as to why the


Newsnight investigation was dropped, was partial and inaccurate. But it


also begs the question why it has taken very nearly three week for


them to make that admission. should there be a way in which BBC


journalists can raise serious editoral concerns, with people at


the very top of the corporation. The Newsnight reporter on the


Savile investigation, Liz MacKean, felt there was nowhere for her


complaints to be properly heard outside the editor's office. It is


obviously very worrying, that the reporter and producer making the


investigation programme felt, so strongly, that their report was


being buried, and didn't seem to be able to do anything about it until


Panorama decided to look into it. As far as the wider impact on the


BBC goes, tonight's Panorama on Savile, could find no evidence to


suggest that Peter Rippon was pressured from above to drop the


report ahead of a Christmas tribute to the star. Tomorrow, the new BBC


director-general, will appear in front of the Commons Culture


Committee. Panorama alleges that Francesca Entwhistle was told about


the Newsnight investigation last year, when he was the BBC's


Director of Vision, but that conversation with the BBC's Head of


News, of said to have lasted less than ten seconds. The committee


will want to know what exactly Francesca Entwhistle was told about


the Newsnight investigation. Why didn't he ask more questions about


the report? And given what he did know, why were those Christmas


tribute programmes, about Savile, allowed to be broadcast?


The crisis has left BBC managers at the highest level, with serious


questions to answer. And, it has raised issues about the culture and


communications of the organisation. No-one would envy the director-


general's task at the Select Committee tomorrow.


Newsnight's editor, Peter Rippon, declined to be interviewed on this


programme. No-one from senior BBC management decided to appear


tonight, either. But here to discuss this are a


former editor of Newsnight, and now director of the documentary film


company, Make World Media, and Stuart Purvis, a former chief


executive of ITV and now Professor of Television Journalism at City


University. First off, how damaged do you think the BBC is by this,


Stuart Purvis? When you had a corporate statement out there for


at least a couple of weeks, and suddenly you pull it, and say that


wasn't right. It was a statement initiated by the editor of


Newsnight, supported by the Head of Editoral Policy, the director-


general and the chairman of the BBC Trust, it is an embarrassing day.


How can it take 25 days to find out the whole basis of the BBC's


defence was phoney? It is an extraordinary position, and I agree


with Stuart, incredibly damaging. How does it take 20 days? You know,


the BBC is massive institution. It take as long time to get itself


together, to get its lines of argument sorted out. I think,


probably, possibly more fundamental was the fact that the BBC is very


hierarchical, it assumes everybody beneath them has done their job


well, and sorted something out. This was an alleged statement of


fact? It was, they obviously, the fact that the director-general, and


the Chairman of the Trust came out and backed it, I think they thought


it had all been sorted out. That the process of the BBC meant this


was absolutely defensible. What is amazing, was that nobody earlier


had not gone back to the original, to talk to the two, the reporter


and the producer involved, and actually realised that there were


divergent views on this. We got no closer in tonight's Panorama, still


running, on this question, on whether the editor of Newsnight was


lent on by people higher than him to can the investigation. So that


is still pretty opaque? It is, it is perfectly proper that the


Panorama programme should say there is no evidence he was lent on. But


we are only half way through this. Bluntly, the journalists are


winning and the corporates are lose anything this process. We have had


these two BBCs at work, and now the question is can these two positions


be some how reconciled, in some sort of agreed truth. The omens for


that are not really good. It is just continually damaging to the


BBC that they had these two BBCs briefing against each other,


leaking against each other, and I'm not even sure that's finished today.


You have sat in that editor's chair, is it conceivable it was an


individual decision? I find it, I find that difficult to believe. To


be honest. I'm not ruling it out, as Stuart has said, we have not got


to the end of it, we don't know. You wouldn't necessarily have to be


instruct, presumably after a while, osmoticall and intuitively you


understand what your bosses want? don't feel there was a corporate


squash. But, having said that, so many things have come out about


this, which have undermined and changed the story, that even I, who


absolutely believed that, wouldn't be surprised if something did come


out now. Because of the changes that there have been. The important


thing in all of this, is, of course, not which programme said what about


whom, it is about child abuse? And whether corporately there was a


catastrophic failure, not just in the corporation, but particularly


in the corporation in this case. How much do these two things feed


across to one another, do you think, this general feeling that there was,


that something went really badly wrong here? I think the common


factor here is defensiveness. If you think about it, Francesca


Entwhistle has nothing to be ashamed of, in temples of he had no


role in the historic element, but the moment that ITV went public


with their allegations, a defensiveness spread across the BBC


about what happened 20, 30 years ago, as well as what happened on


Newsnight. They really needed to keep those two processes separate.


They should have said these are serious allegations about the past,


we will look into it, and in the case of Newsnight, they needed to


be more on the ball about what they were saying. One other element that


is similar. They didn't actually take them seriously, right off.


Having done a child abuse investigation myself, it is very


easy to dismiss the people who come forward as not being credible. I


think there is an element of how people have viewed the past, and


what happened in the past, and possibly, what actually came out in


a Newsnight investigation, that just wasn't taken as seriously as


it should have been There is certainly a hint in the e-mails


that we only have a the word of the victims. You kind of think that is


a pretty strong word. Having done it, it is incredibly hard for the


victims to come forward. Let's come back to this dreary media point,


perhaps, Chris Patten, the BBC bruft, are also on the hook, --


Trust, are also on the hook, on the basis of the statement initially


issued, there are serious issues for corporate governance there? I


think there was, when Chris Patten got the job there was a sigh of


relief in the BBC. He's a political heavyweight, he wanted to bring the


Trust and the management closer together than under his predecessor.


There are echos, hearing Gavin Davies in the Hutton affair,


calling the governance together saying we must support the


management. He didn't need to say the things he said. He resigned


didn't didn't he? He had to resign. Chris Patten said we told the


police as soon as we knew we had evidence, that now turns out to be


untrue. Now, monsters Inc, Conrad Moffat


Black was once one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. As


owner of the Daily Telegraph and other places, he was courted by the


political class, and flattered by the investors' tip sheets. Then he


fell foul of the American justice system, and charged with being


seriously myopic when figuring out what was his company and what was


the company's. Lord of the Holy ap see, he became prisoner 18334 he


didn't like it, and he went to see him about it earlier. First we


shine some light on him. It was a calamitous fall, compared to the


ficticious Citizen Kane, Lord Conrad Black was a real newspaper


baron, whose crimes were covered in papers he once owned and defrauded.


He has been consistently accused by the courts and others of being


dishonest, always his reply is, "I'm the victim". This is no


different now. Conrad Black has always played the victim card in


his defence of his criminal behaviour. Ennobled in the Lords,


this was the zenith of Conrad Moffat Black's career, and the


beginning of the end. I Conrad Lord Black of Crossharbour, do swear by


Almighty God...The Son of a wealthy Canadian industrialist, 20 years


after buying his first paper in qek beck, Black had taken over the


Telegraph, he was soon alleged to be looting his cop on a grand scale


-- company on a grand scale. What is comical, when he was in London


as owner of the Telegraph, he was always saying what genius


capitalism was, when it was the capitalists, the shareholders in


his own company, who said in 2001, you are stealing the shareholders'


money, you are defrauding the Telegraph Group, it was he that


said he was the victim of capitalism. Because he wanted to


take as much money as he needed. said was the victim of the American


prosecutors? Of course he was, they prosecuted a fraudster. Five years


ago, Conrad Black was convicted in an American court of defrauding the


company he had led, Hollinger. Report He was initially jailed for


six-and-a-half years. But served less than half that, after winning


appeals against a number of the fraud counts. He still claims to be


innocent of all crimes. But back home in Canada, the country he had


once renounced as being in decline, he remains a controversial figure.


He currently has a one-year residency visa, and the opposition


want him booted out. It is a far cry from the days when he and


Barbara Amiel, his second wife, had two private jets and homes in


London's Kensington and Park Avenue New York.


Barbara Amiel for Conrad Black was an awakening, and enlightenment, an


apparition, she was a goddess, because she combined beauty and


intelligence, and sassyness, and everything else. The problem was,


she also had this insaitable extravagance. As she said, her


extravagance knows know bounds. one time, he ran one of the biggest


newspaper businesses in the world, it was said he was a millionaire


with a billionare's life standard. Others say Conrad Black was less


modest. In the end, Conrad Black believes


he's God, and everyone must bow to him. His hero is Napoleon, except


he doesn't figure in the same way as nappol lan, he's always defeated


whatever he does. The one thing you can't say about him, is he's a


physical coward. In the end he calls comes back, and again and


again and again, -- in the end he always comes back again and again,


he's a fighter, that is how he makes his money. Lord Black is


indeed back. Plugging his book, claiming he has been wrongly


convicted, and trying 0 rebuild a reputation. -- trying to rebuild a


rep taiing. That will take some fight.


REPORTER: Do you think prison made you a better person? Hard to saying,


I'm suspicious of people who say it make awe better person. It was a


broadening experience, I can say that. It was, in a way, a humbling


one. That is normally good for us. I suppose I would say, yes, but I


don't want to give your viewers that I'm trumpeting myself as an


altogether madeover virttuous person. Not at all, you deny all


the charges against you? They are rubbish, everyone can see their


rubbish. You are a convicted fraudster? No, I'm not. In the


first place, under British and Canadian rules none of this would


stand up. We got rid of all the counts and had the prosecuting


statute declared unconstitutional. When you read the remarks of the


judges, for example the judge in Delaware, that you are "evasive and


unreliable"? That was not a criminal case, that was a


completely, just a minute, that was a completely falacious judgment, in


fact, absolutely defied by the jurors. It is the opinion of a


judge? And you have been convicted? Will you stop thisburg


woipriingishness. What is bourg wore drg bourg war -- bourgeois?


you think a British court, all of it thrown out, the Supreme Court,


equivalent in this country, denouncing the lower court judges


as idiots, the infirmity of inventing law and telling them.


misunderstood what was legal? Nothing I misunderstood was legal.


Why are you convicted? 99% of people are convicted in the United


States. It is a all fascistic conveyor belt of justice that is


what it is. 5% of the population of the world are Americans, 25% of the


incarcerated people are, and 50% of the lawyers are. 99.5% conviction


rate. This sits very odd. Six to 12 times as many people per capita


incarcerated as Britain, France, Germany and Japan, how do you


explain that? I don't think I have to? Give it a try. Why? Before you


accuse me of being a criminal, give it a try. You are a convicted


criminal? You are a fool, a priingish British, fool, who takes


seriously this ghastly American justice system, that any sane


person knows is an outrage. This sits very oddly with our


protestation you are a Roman Catholic, don't you do penance?


do, I do, and I believe in the punishment of crime, as well as the


confession of wrongdoing. Do you not think that a man found guilty


by due process of law, ought to be slightly penitent? If it is, in


fact, due process. There was no due process of law in that. You see


Jeremy, your problem is you have no idea how the system operates.


are the one who chose to locate his business there? I did. Yes.


were just foolish or what? In fact, I wouldn't say, I would say that is


slightly overstatinging it. I underestimated the corruption of


the American legal system, I confess to that, I'm penitent about


it as well. What will surprise our viewers, that a man who has within


through this will show no humility and shame? Of course not, I'm sick


to death, I'm proud of being in a federal prison and survived it as


well. I had no problem with the regime or fellow residents. I'm


proud of having gone through the terribly difficult process of being


falsely charged, falsely convicted, and ultimately almost kpwhrotly


vindicated, without losing my mind, becoming irrational, stopping being


a reasonable and penitent person, and enduring a discussion like this,


without getting up and smashing your face in, which most people


would have done if they-through what I have been. Get up then?


don't believe in violence. Do you expect to retain your seat in the


House of Lords? Why not. You're a convicted criminal? There is not a


prohibition on a convicted criminal sitting in that House. You don't


believe a man who has done time in prison should be to help frame the


laws of a country? Yes I do. If there is a question about his guilt


in the first place, say it was a person convicted in North Korea, on


that theory Nelson Mandela couldn't sit. And, if I were you I would be


careful about being such a gullible rubber stamp to the crooked


American system. You think a convicted paedophile, for example,


should be able to sit in the House of Lords and make laws on child


protection? That is not what I said. No? If you ask it in those terms.


If he was a legitimate, legitimately convicted paedophile,


I would say there were serious problems about him sitting in a


legislative party. The whole legal process is about determining


whether people are justly convicted or acquitted, you put yourself


above that, don't you? No I do not. I put myself in the camp of Henry


David this. Oroeoux, who says in a society that routinely sends


innocent people to prison, the place for innocent people is in


prison. The idea I would sit in a public company and steal $285,000,


that is what they are down to, they don't even claim it is a theft or


fraud. They claim it is an inproper reception of money voted by the


directors and published as a fact. That is what you are waxing so


sanctimonious about. Does having a very extravagant wife make that


sort of thing more likely? Oh God, I'm going to throw up! After seven


years, my first morning back in Britain,am I to be subjected to


this. She wasn't extravagant, she's a magnificent wife, she visited me


every week in prison, even coming back from China to do it. Why did


you suddenly start spending so much money? I didn't start spending so


much money, I was a well-to-do man. I spent in accord with my means,


and my means went up. You are a man traducced, if I'm to understand


you? I am. I have been forcible with you, I don't want to disabuse


your viewers that I think I'm always right, I made terrible


mistraik, but not ethical mistake, -- mistakes, and not ethical


mistakes, and certainly not acts of thefts.


Look at me, I'm not knocked about by events, David Cameron tried to


establish some authority It's All Over Now things, after last week's


pitfalls, like the resignation of the Chief Whip. He says he's going


to transform the criminal justice system, and not spending any more


money, in fact at a time when he's cutting money spent on prison. He


went to a jail for the usual photocall, and the disappointment


of his critics, he came out. A surprising soupy fog descended


today. Westminster was lost in a Dickensian mist, as the Prime


Minister, we were told, was about to take criminal justice policy


back in time too. Except David Cameron didn't then go quite as far


as been prebriefed, said he wanted to focus on the grey bits of modern


life. With the crime debate, people seem to want it black or white.


Lock them up or let them out. Blame the criminal, or blame society. Be


tough or act soft. We're so busy going backwards and forwards, that


we never actually move the debate on. What I have been trying to do,


in opposition and now in Government, is to break out of the sterile


debate, and show a new way forward, tough, but intelligent. So, not


sterile and indeed not monochrome, but at the weekend, in black and


white, a newspaper headline previewing this speech screamed


"mug a hoodie", was a new direction coming into focus? Not really.


many people, when it comes to crime, I'm the person associated with


those three words, two of which begin with "h" and the last one is


hoodie. I never actually said it, and haven't again today. For others


I'm a politician who has argued frequently for tough punishment. Do


I take a tough line on crime or a touchy feely one. In ore no other


area of public debate do the issues get as polarised as this. He has


been on a journey, when he came to the CSJ with the hug a hoodie


speech, he talked about young people and what leads them to crime,


in terms of causes of crime and rehabilitation, he has been pretty


consistent. What we are seeing now is a sense, with the new Justice


Secretary, Grayling grey, an opportunity to talk tougher --


Chris Grayling, an opportunity to talk tougher, he's not in battle


with other politicians to talk tougher. There was one policy


innovation, the hoodie would not be mugged or hugged, but companies who


stopped reoffending would get hugged, or at least a fee. With


payment by results, your money will go to what work, criminals go


straight, crime going down and the country getting safer. It is such a


good idea, I will put rocket boosters under it. I have an


announcement to wait. By the end of 2015, I want payment by results


spread right across rehabilitation. But this is controversial, with the


role out being announced before pilots have finished. It may not be


blain sailing either. We have seen ho -- plain sailing either. We have


seen how difficult it is with welfare-to-work. There has been


payments there, and there is a lot of criticism about how it is


working out. That is fairly simple compared to what they are asking


for a justice system. Getting someone into a job is simple,


getting someone to stop reoffending, and people have chaotic lives in


and out and prison. Was this the Prime Minister's first speech on


crime since taking office, a steadier pace than the previous


Government, why not a little more from David Cameron? One reason is


crime is falling, and concern about crime has fallen away with the


economy and unemployment swamping it as an issue. But also because


his lead over Labour has been pretty solid for a very long time.


It remains 10% more people believing the Conservatives have


the best policies on crime than the Labour Party. There wasn't much new


in today's speech, it wasn't about policy but positions. In less than


a month's time there will be a speech on elections of crime


commissioners, but there hasn't been much effort from the Prime


Minister to make sure they are a success. Today's speech is about


associating in the public's minds cram Ron against crime F that


doesn't happen, there is a fear that next month's elections could


be the latest Downing Street damp squib.


The Government has made many unforced errors recently, and many


yes or no for some stability. Within the fog, some even discern


the outlines of an economic recovery.


The minister for policing and criminal justice, Roy Greenslade,


is with us now, -- Damien Green is with us now, where is the evidence


that rehabilitation payment works? The pilots done by the Justice


Department in four prison, Peterborough has a very good


project by a charity there, which is seeing some early results. And


also, the wider experiment in the welfare system, we have used


payment by results to get people back into work, and through the


work programme, more young people are in work than before.


Specifically on the penal policy, are those results published? No, we


are still at the evaluation stage. The early signs are good. You have


not yet evaluated whatever weather it does comprehensively work?


have seen evidence it does work. What we do know is the current


system absolutely doesn't work. yes, it may be that your new system


doesn't absolutely work either, but how do you measure, in order to


make sure they get paid? measurement of success is stopping


reoffending. That what we want is people, what we have now is a


revolving door where people go into jail, come out, commit more crime,


go back into jail, that is clearly something that has to change. What


we want to do is bring energy to bear from charities and from the


private sector. So that if they can actually change people's lifestyle,


I agree with those people saying this is a difficult ask, that is


why we need all this expertise from all over the place F they succeed,


then they get paid. So -- If they succeed, then they get paid. To get


paid, the offender concerned can't reoffend at all. It won't be


sufficient that somebody committing 60 burglaries a year goes to ten


burglaries a year, that wouldn't be a result? The principle will be


that for a certain amount of time, and one can argue about the amount


of time for different offences, but say for a year, after you come out


of prison, you are not convicted to go back into prison. Of any crime?


The sort of crime that will land you back in prison.


The Prime Minister also is lifting the cap on prison numbers, there


are about 86,500 people in prison now. Are you envisaging it could go


to any number at all? We haven't got a cap on prison number, there


is no targets for prison numbers. Shouldn't there be? No, I don't


think there should. Because crime is falling, as was rightly said in


your report, one would report over time fewer people would go there.


It is nothing to do with whether crime is rising or falling, it is


an absolute? The number of prison places? No, the question question


of whether people should go to prison -- no the question of


whether people should go to prison if they commit a crime is rising


and falling? It is true on the law and the sentencing policy at the


time. The point of principle that the public wants to see, if


parliament have passed a law saying if you commit this particular crime


you should go to jail, then you should go to jail. How many people


are you prepared to see in prison? We don't have a target, as I say.


What we want to do is stop people reoffending, and the effect of that,


because so much crime, such a large percentage of crime is committed by


people who are reoffending, if can you stop some of those people,


hopefully a significant number of those people, reoffending, then


actually what you see is a fall in the prison population, even though


you are being perfectly tough on sending people to jail who deserve


to go to jail. An urgent dispatch today from the


Belarusian Telegraph Agency in Minsk, and an avidly read source in


the Newsnight office t carried the latest thunderous insight of the


President, Alexander Lukashenko, he believes talk of democracy is being


used as a cover for what he calls "plunder" by the west. Last week he


was claiming he is no Stalin. He has a different style of moustache


for one thing. We joined the latest press baron,


Evgeny Lebedev, to conduct a rare interview with the man who is


called Europe's last great dictator, a warning this film contains flash


photography. Right own the edge of Europe, a


place that offends so many European values.


We have come to Minsk, to meet up with Britain's youngest newspaper


proprietor. We're on our way to a rare meeting that Evgeny Lebedev


has managed to secure. Not many get to see the corridors


of Belarusian power. This is an opportunity to put on the spot, the


man known as Europe's last dictator. It's also a challenge, for the


ambitious son of a Russian oligarch. President Alexander Lukashenko has


been in power for 18 years. He has been accused of torture and human


rights abuses. He has thrown his opponents in prison, banned


protests, and restricted freedom of expression. The Belarusian


strongman is banned from travelling to Britain and the United States.


And western journalists rarely get a chance to hold him to account.


The night before the interview, preparations are under way in a


hotel in central Minsk. I decided not to start on international


policy, but more on him as a man. Evgeny Lebedev, once labelled as


London's latest "it" boy, is now in the role of a foreign correspondent,


for a newspaper his father bought for him of the I come here as a


journalist for the Independent Newspaper, the article that I will


write will be in the Independent Newspaper. He considers himself an


authoritarian leader. authoritarian-style, is what he


said. So, what does he expect from the


Belarusian leader? I think one of the interesting things about this,


I really have no idea how it will to. I think it is the first one


that I have done, where I really do not know what to expect. But,


apparently, according to his press secretary, he's up for a fight.


Lebedev's own father made his billion after the break up of the


Soviet Union, in the chaotic, rapid privatisation of state monoplies,


that made a handful of Russians rich, and left millions in poverty.


Alexander Lukashenko never allowed that to happen in Belarus.


The route this country, Belarus, took, was very different from the


one that Russia took. To my mind, Russia went the route of plenty of


democracy, in the 1990s, plenty of democracy, but not very much


fairness. Belarus went the opposite way, there was plenty of fairness,


and not very much democracy. Do you think that is a fair assessment?


But the relative stability of reel rus comes at a price. There is no -


- Belarus comes as a price. There is no presidential term here, and


the 1996 referendum consolidated Alexander Lukashenko's power. Not a


single election here has been deemed free or fair by the west.


Not a single opposition candidate won a seat in the recent


parliamentary vote. Protests have been violently


suppressed. But Lukashenko says western calls for democracy in


The referendum gave you huge powers over this country, and that was to


appoint a Prime Minister, who appoints the Government, to appoint


half the Senate, to appoint some of the judges, to appoint the head of


the KGB and also appoint the head of the editoral commission. Do you


think that is too much power concentrated in the hands of one


TRANSLATION: Don't you think it is The west's real agenda, the


President says, is to open up the Belarusian economy. Which would


make it vulnerable to the problems of the rest of the Europe. This


woman is a journalist for a Russian newspaper, owned by Lebedev's


father. In 2010, she and her husband, a former presidential


candidate, were jailed for organising protests. Their son was


three at the time, authorities threatened to take him away.


International pressure got them out Today she is allowed to leave the


house, but not the city. Police visit regularly, often in the


middle of the noit. And, she has a -- in night. And, she has another


trial pending. One of our journalists has been arrested and


is in this country, she can't leave the country. I can vouch for her


personally, I know she's not a criminal. Can I ask why she's not


even allowed to go and see a doctor in Moscow? The President looking


surprise and asks is she not out of the country already, he turns to


his aide, no problem, he says, send her to Moscow tonight. Then minutes


later, a memo arrives. Being dictator isn't such a bad


thing, he joke, there you go, and don't bother bringing her back.


Later in the day, Lebedev brings Irina the news, she's grateful, but,


she tells him, she's also sceptical. Because President Lukashenko's


Belarus can be a dark, secretive place, where what is said in public,


doesn't necessarily correspond to reality. Many believe that was the


case with the Minsk Metro bombing, an explosion that killed 15 people


in April 2011. Within 48 hours, police arrested two young men.


Within weeks they were convicted and executed. The BBC News night


investigation into the attack raised a possibility that Security


Services were involved in the bombing. And the mother of one of


the men said confessions were extracted under torture. Mr


Lukashenko dismissed allegations of torture, and it was always under


his control, the investigation, and Interpol agreed.


Although we were just observers, I asked Lukashenko to follow up on


the answer. Your own correspondent and newspaper that covered this


trial, talked about what a sham it was, and it was basically a show


trial. The BBC had evidence that some of the things said by the


judge were simply absurd, what does After the interview the President


and Evgeny Lebedev disappeared for a private meeting. At the end,


Lebedev never really challenged the Belarusian leader. It has taken the


son of a Russian oligarch to get us rare access to this place, and the


man known as Europe's last dictator. The fascinating four-hour long


conversation between them revealed a man who is well aware of his


reputation, and yet, convinced that his country is on the right course.


This is a country where facts are easily manipulated, and public


accountability is scarce. Which is why, back at her house, Irina says


Even if President Lukashenko keeps his promise, she doesn't want to


leave Minsk. This is her home, like so many others, Irina wants to find


her freedom here, in Belarus. Irina, who was featured in the film,


is still under house arrest, it is now more than two weeks since


President Lukashenko said she could go free. That's it, we will be back


with more tomorrow, until then, Grey will continue to be the


dominant sky colour over the next couple of days. Earl low mist and


fog gradually lifting through the course of the day, never completely


clearing in many places across England and Wales. Not many bright


spot, perhaps to the west of the Pennine, bright intervals in the


afternoon. The North Sea coast staying resolutely grey, into the


Midland, into the south-east of England. Despite the cloud, still


mild, 15 in Southampton, brighter in the west of the high ground in


south-west England. Barnstaple could see a little glimpse of


sunshine, if you are lucky. East Wales, misty. West Wales a little


brighter. For Northern Ireland it looks a pretty grey day. Highs of


13. Patchy drizzle, certainly a possibility. The real bright spot,


is once again, the North West of Scotland, lovely here over the last


few days, that will continue after a chilly start. Looking into


Tuesday and into Wednesday, not much change. Still most of our


featured cities, looking grey. Similar temperatures as well. Maybe


not seeing quite as much fog around by Wednesday. Just a little more


breeze picking up, it helps pick it up into low cloud. A slight


Featuring reports on the Jimmy Savile scandal and the woes of David Cameron. Plus, an interview with disgraced media mogul Conrad Black, and meet the dictator of Belarus.

Presented by Jeremy Paxman.

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