07/06/2013 Newswatch


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Now, it is time for Newswatch. This week, a state operation by Panorama


comes under the spotlight. -- a staying operation. Welcome to


Newswatch. Panorama and the Daily Telegraph set up a fake company and


secretly filmed parliamentarians for an investigation into lobbying. Was


this justified? Viewers object to being told about road safety


offences by a reporter while he is driving. Who is that staring through


the window? The phrase cash for questions was bandied about in the


1990s so there may have been a sense of deja vu you for some viewers over


charges that a peer and an MP had agreed to do Parliamentary work for


money. On Panorama, a fake lobbying company was set up and secretly


filmed Patrick Mercer who told an undercover reporter that he would


help start an all-party parliament to group for Fiji. -- group. He


denied any wrongdoing, saying he had taken the money for consultancy work


outside Parliament. He has since resigned the Conservative party whip


and is taking legal advice and has referred himself to the Standards


Commissioner. Meanwhile Lord Laird also secretly filmed by the Panorama


team, said he had been the subject of a scam by journalists and that he


had not broken any rules, although he has since also resigned at the


party whip. What are the methods used? One viewer had concerns,


writing... An element of subterfuge is of course integral to much


investigated journalism. Panorama has often done this to a chain


footage, as in John Sweeney's recent trip to North Korea. Journalists are


banned here, part of a tour group. Hidden cameras have been employed in


some programmes. By secretly filming inside here, the BBC found staff out


of control. Operations of the sort seen this week or not you, featuring


in a recent Expose on the UK's tax avoidance industry. Here and


undercover reporter, posing as a tax investigator. Was this programme and


unjustified entrapment, but the only way to expose wrongdoing which was


in the public interest? Let us explore that question with the


editor of Panorama. It was clearly in the public interest to expose


wrongdoing, but viewers are concerned about the setting up of


the fake company, can you explain why you did this? First of all, I


will make it clear, the public interest in this story, it was felt


by the BBC, was overwhelming. It was about the standard of contact in


Parliament by elected members of parliament. That was a very


important matter. The proper subject of scrutiny and public interest. The


decision to fake -- set up a fake company would be because there was


sufficient evidence, both in terms of the amount of lobbying and in


terms of the amount of consultancy activity going on in Parliament,


which has been the subject of widespread concern, not least by


this government and this Prime Minister, while in opposition. It


was the level of that evidence, specifically over a range of


individuals, that made us feel that that was the best way of actually


approaching a story like this. those two people, viewers might say


that we have seen a particular operation, and they would not have


done that without you. You have not proved that they have done it in the


past. I will not go into business ethics of those cases. This was the


subject of legal correspondence before we went on air. In general,


when you go about setting up anything like that, you have to have


a pretty strong amount of evidence, before you can even start the


process. I will also say that we would not have started even secret


filming, until there had been some sort of initial contact, which would


then give grounds for that secret filming to be allowed. You said that


there is a process for secret filming and for setting up a fake


company, can you tell us how that worked? What we have to do is gather


as much extensive research and evidence, which is exactly what


happened in this story, and go to editorial policy and make a case for


whether there is sufficient evidence to allow us, in the public interest,


and perhaps criminality, though that was not the case in this case, to


allow us to basically use secret filming and inherently, the


deception involved. I would stress that over and above this kind of


operation, or a scam company, undercover filming of the sort that


you have described, it is of course inherently deceptive. There is a


deceit and that deceit is allowed by the BBC, under the terms of its


guidelines, if there is clear public interest in terms of wrongdoing,


anti-social behaviour and potential criminal activity. Do you think


viewers might have a reason to be concerned? There is a difference


between abuse in a care home and setting up a fake company. That is


debatable. Clearly the evidence that we had gathered is that there was


sufficient concern that this was happening. I would ask people to


watch the film and answer questions in their own heads about whether


these people felt reasonably at ease in the sort of circumstances in


which they found themselves. The fact that they volunteered quite


willingly, their own rates for which ever they would get paid. I would


also hope that the viewers, if they solve the programme, would be more


concerned by what they saw, for example the member of Parliament,


Patrick Mercer, in terms of putting questions down. We have not heard


the like of for money since the 1990s. One other issue was the fact


that this was an independent production company behind this. It


was carried out with the Telegraph newspaper. There is some interest,


after what happened with other investigations, like the one into


Lord McAlpine, should the BBC give up control of these stories? It is


interesting that people highlighted the Daily Telegraph. We did a


similar film before Christmas, with the Guardian. The essence of all


these things, whether it is independent companies or


newspapers, is that the journalism itself, the final decision making is


my own as editor. We go through a vigorous process which is run


internally by the BBC and the legal side, to make sure that all the


processes and journalism is right and proper. Thank you. Do let us


know your thoughts. Details of how to contact us will be on at the end


of the programme. Before that, some of your other reactions, starting


with the reporting of Prince Philip's visit to hospital for a


planned operation. Mike McCarthy was not alone in responding... Now, when


reporting about the crackdown on a set of motoring offences such as


tailgating and lane hogging, from where does a transport correspondent


address the camera, from the driving seat of a car, it seems. What will


change for motorists? Until now, if the police wanted to prosecute


someone for blocking a lane or jumping a junction or driving too


close to the car in front, they had to take them to court. That used up


a lot of time and resources. Richard Westcott up there. Barry Mason was


one of those who took exception to that piece to camera, e-mailing...


Finally, we have aired complaints recently from viewers that they have


been distracted by all the people visible in the newsroom behind the


presenters. On Friday, there was a rather unusual presence hovering


over the newsreader -- newsreaders s' shoulders. Let us join the Queen.


Her Majesty, the Queen, is in the heart of Broadcasting House. It is a


view that we share with our audience every day, but today, a unique


moment with a special Royal guest. That bizarre piece of television


came about because the Queen was officially opening the new


Broadcasting House building, a visit shown in all its glory on the News


Channel. One viewer was unimpressed with the reception she was given,


asking... They were and they did not. That is all from us. If you


want to share your opinions with us or appear on the programme, you can


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