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Spotlight at 40

Spotlight marks its 40th anniversary with a special edition that recalls some of the strand's most significant investigations, culled from its archives.


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language and scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

:00:00.:00:11.

It is 40 years since BBC Northern Ireland's longest running programme

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took to the air. Tonight in a special programme, we will be

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looking back through the archives to see how much has stayed the same and

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how much has changed. Welcome to Spotlight.

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The music I remember more than anything else. My dad would kick the

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dog and say, this is important. It is asking questions about why, who,

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how and where and not prepared to take bullshit for an answer. How

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many people have you killed? We call it current affairs. Sometimes it is

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live, sometimes it is electric. As a family, we would watch Spotlight

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every week as I still do. This is you, isn't it? Now is a good time to

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tell you, I am Jennifer O'Leary from BBC Spotlight. You go onto the radio

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show the day after and the fans are going mad because everybody has been

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talking about it. The job of Spotlight has always been to ask

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questions. Sometimes it has found surprising and controversial

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answers. How did you get the money? Two checks. Written out to me. Three

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years ago a programme on the business dealings of Iris Robinson

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created a sensation. Iris Robinson sought and received a total of

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?50,000 from two well-known property developers in 2008. Two cheques to

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the tune of ?25,000 were made out at her behest to Kirk McCambley. We

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have spent months piecing together piecing together the story of the

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Red Sky affair. Earlier this year, a Spotlight investigation into the

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contractors for the Housing executive meant that the Stormont

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was recalled. Then he told me that he wanted me to go against the

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decision of the board on the extension of the contract. I said to

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him, I do not think I can do that. The Red Sky programme had its

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critics. The BBC have been absolutely scandalous. Spotlight

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three years ago did a special targeted at another representative

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who just happens to be the First Minister. Subsequent to that

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programme, there was a series of investigations by the police, as I

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understand it, and the parliament to ombudsman and others, and the result

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of those, I understand, was that the thrust of that programme was not

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upheld. Also its fans. It exposed a real scandal in Northern Ireland. It

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did it in such a way that it conveyed the human aspect as well as

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the serious political applications. It was brave. Why did you bring

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Jenny Palmer and tell her to change her vote in the Housing executive

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board? -- why did you ring? Mr Brimstone sent as a solicitor's

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letter in which he does not accept the accuracy of his reporting of his

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telephone conversation with Jenny Palmer and does not accept he put

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pressure on her. One of the really significant parts of that programme

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was the fact that EDU be in that case were communicating via

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solicitors letters and they were constantly declining chances to

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explain themselves in an interview like this and it gave an impression

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of a very close mentality towards journalism and towards someone who

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was trying to go beyond just reporting what had happened that

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day. In the 40 years of its existence, Spotlight has asked

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questions of everyone, from gangsters to government. Generations

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of journalists have passed through the office with the aim of telling

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me fruit and revealing things the audience did not know before. That

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is a philosophy that is as relevant today as it was back when it all

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began. October, 1973. People across Northern Ireland tuned into a new

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programme. Some of them in places you might not expect. When the first

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programme was broadcast, I was in Long Kesh. One black and white

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television. We followed political events through the programme. That

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month in Northern Ireland, there were 300 shootings and 80 bomb

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attacks. Spotlight looked at issues that were a long way from being

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controversial. Local government, traffic congestion and even the job

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of a lollipop man. In its infancy, Spotlight did have -- did not have

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much in a way of a coherent identity. It took some time for the

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programme to find its feet. But there were signs that it was not

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afraid to tackle controversial and to boot subjects. I remember a

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programme about domestic violence. What sort of beatings did you get?

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Gloria Hunniford was one of the first Northern Ireland reporters to

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look at domestic violence. It made a big impression on some viewers. My

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parents used to fight with each other. There was fighting on the TV

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and I became interested in it because I thought they were related

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somehow. I thought the fighting on the streets in the North had come

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into our house in some way. The troubles were just a few years old

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but by the mid-70s they had already claimed hundreds of lives. One early

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programme explored a theme Spotlight would return to time and again over

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the next four decades. The grief suffered by those who had lost loved

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ones in the violence. This lady's husband was killed while working as

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a bin man. It is two years since I lost my husband. I had heard that

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there had been a driver killed and I knew the driver of my husband's

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squad and I asked had he been killed and he said no. I knew the way he

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said that he been killed. The subject matter for Spotlight

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programmes was extremely diverse. It even did celebrity profiles and

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interviews. In 1979, Spotlight caught up with Northern Ireland's

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most famous son George Best. The sound quality on this tape has

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deteriorated over time but in this interview he told Spotlight he was

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interested even men in returning to the game he loved. The ball comes

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along and it looks good. No one will ever take advantage of me again. The

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question was whether his social life played a part in cutting short his

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career. I have had the same life of everybody else but because I was the

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best player, my social life was opposed to be wilder. The reporter

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put it to George Best that he was an alcoholic. I didn't ever said I

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would was an alcoholic. Angela has got ideas to keep me busy. A few

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kids to keep him busy. Not everyone might be soft focus. Some like its

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newest reporter Jeremy Paxman felt it needed to concentrate on the big

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issues of the day. The 16 men making up the trade mission to Iran were

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trying to do the Eastern equivalent of selling refrigerators to

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Eskimos. Strange politics, a system of government, , there was a war

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going on. That was not reflected in Spotlight at all. It existed in a

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parallel universe London made the big programmes. They got the

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resources, the money, the time and the space. We were not talking about

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ourselves, we were talking to ourselves.

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Spotlight spent much of its time reacting to the news. Jeremy Paxman

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and his colleagues wanted to set the agenda. One of his earliest scoops

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was an investigation into a new terror group, INLA. We met one of

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their leaders. How many people have you killed? I am not prepared to

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say. The government went into denial mode and claimed that Jeremy Paxman

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had been hoaxed. All credit to the bigwigs who were in charge, they did

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not try to stop us broadcasting. By now, ambitious young journalists

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were beginning to gravitate towards the toxic mix of Northern Ireland's

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Troubles. Roisin McAuley moved back from London to Belfast to take up a

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job as a reporter. I was coming from a free city into a city that was

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very much under a sort of clamp-down. I remember this feeling

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of nervousness when you walked past an unattended parked car, for

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example. Gavin Esler arrived at the end of the 1970s. By now, Spotlight

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had evolved. It had decisively moved away from arts and entertainment and

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was delivering investigations which were often controversial. In 1980,

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Esler reported on a programme which would turn out to be hugely

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significant. He looked at whether a West Belfast man languishing in

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prison in England had really been a key figure in a bomb-making factory.

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Then obscure, the imprisoned man's cause was soon to become famous. We

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did the story about Giuseppe Conlon which threw doubts on the entire

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case against a number of other people in the so-called Aunt Annie's

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Bomb Factory, in which there were no bombs. Were you in the IRA? Was I in

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it? Nah. I was in the scouts. And because of that, because they got

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off, it also raised doubts about the Birmingham Six. So it is one of the

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proudest moments in my journalistic career that an innocent man, who

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unfortunately died before he could be proved innocent to the public,

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had been traduced by the British court system. Which eventually put

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it right, but too late for Guiseppe Conlon, unfortunately.

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Spotlight's job was increasingly to get to the story behind the news

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headlines. Roisin McAuley was asked to look at the disappearance of Army

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Captain, Robert Nairac, who had gone missing in South Armagh. Robert

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Nairac's mission on that May night has never been made clear, so what

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sort of soldier was it that got so caught up in the Troubles of

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Northern Ireland that, in the end, he even tried to assume the identity

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of those people he was fighting? He was a Lawrence of Arabia-type figure

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with all those characteristics of being a loner, thinking that you

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could kind of win wars on your own. I remember being told this was the

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case of the spy who didn't come in from the cold. Because it was a May

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evening and Captain Nairac was wearing a donkey jacket. I was told

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that, this had made some people in the pub suspicious because he hadn't

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taken his jacket off. Spotlight gained a reputation as a forum for

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extended and hard-hitting interviews. When, Gavin Esler met

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the mother of a hunger striker, he was taken aback by her loyalty to

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the cause. Part of the context was Connor Cruise O'Brien, the Irish

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politician had said, I think he said that republicanism is a genetic

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defect and too often it is the mother who is the carrier. Are you

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prepared to see the protest go to the death? Am I prepared to accept

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it? Yes. I know the men, and short of their five demands, they will

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hunger strike to death. Many people will find it extraordinary that your

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son doesn't take his full remission, come off the protest and come out of

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prison as soon as possible. I think one thing that you people do not

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seem to understand is that those men are not criminals. It seemed to be

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in some ways almost against nature. Or against what you would expect.

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And I thought of my mother. Would my mother ever say that about me? It's

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right for you to die for something you genuinely believe in? Looking

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back through the archives, it's clear that the Troubles formed the

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backbone of Spotlight in the late 1970s and 1980s. After all, it was

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the story unfolding on the doorstep. But that wasn't all that Spotlight

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turned its attention to. It also tried to deal with the big social

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issues of the day in Northern Ireland. And looking back on some of

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those programmes now, it shows just how much things have changed. Jeff

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Dudgen is 30. He is a junior executive in industry and he enjoys

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a busy social life outside his job. At first sight he is like thousands

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of other young men in Ulster. Except that Jeff is a homosexual. Nearly 40

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years later, in a very different Belfast, we met Jeff again. I asked

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him about his memories of the programme. I do remember one aspect

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of the programme was the vox pops of the people in the street and there

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were six or seven different people, four or five of them were generally

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sympathetic. I feel sorry for them. Everybody to their own thing.

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Everyone to their own, really. In 1976, homosexuality was still a

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criminal offence in Northern Ireland. If he practices his

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beliefs, he could be convicted in court and sentenced to life in jail.

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So in that context, to appear on television, to talk about this

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issue, was brave. Well, it was brave, but maybe it was wise.

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Because if we were going to go down, it was probably going to be harder

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to send us down having appeared on TV. So it was calculated. People

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were nervous of being nasty to people who had been on TV. After the

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programme, Jeff went to the European Court of Human Rights and won a

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landmark case leading to the decriminalisation of homosexuality

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in Northern Ireland. At times, Spotlight tried to find the local

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angle on global issues. And one of the biggest was the ever-present

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threat of nuclear war. For almost 50 bemused local government officers,

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it's the first step towards preparing Northern Ireland unity for

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the consequences of a nuclear attack. One memorable edition of the

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programme looked at how Northern Ireland would fare if the button

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were ever pressed. If a two megaton nuclear megaton bomb fell on the

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centre of Belfast it would cause death and destruction on an enormous

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scale. And I remember thinking at the time that it was quite bizarre

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because the only place in the United kingdom that was blowing itself up

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was going to be a target for somebody else to blow up. If you

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were in the Kremlin in 1983 you were clearly going to turn round and say,

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well, no need to blow up Belfast, they seem to be doing a reasonable

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job of that themselves! What's been forgotten about the Troubles is that

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for most people, they were just distant bangs and news reports. You

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needed to be involved or very unlucky to be caught up in them. The

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threat of nuclear was what really kept us awake at night. Spotlight

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followed a Civil Service exercise dealing with a fictitious nuclear

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attack on Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, Coleraine,

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Ballyclare, Crossgar, Aughnacloy and Enniskillen were deemed targets.

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Their strategic importance uncertain. It named all these places

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that were going to be wiped out. And, of course, shopkeepers in these

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towns were watching that episode of Spotlight, thinking to themselves,

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brilliant, get a claim in. Some of Spotlight's early programmes remind

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us of how much things have changed in Northern Ireland and beyond. But

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some show us that certain types of stories pop up again and again.

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Stories, for instance, about the way politicians use public money. In one

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memorable programme, Spotlight followed a group of Belfast city

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councilors on a junket to Spain. It was a trip they would come to

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regret. Reporter Wendy Robbins followed the councilors to a

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conference in Spain. But when she went to the conference, they were

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nowhere to be seen. We've been in Spain for full two days and there

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has been no sign of Councilor Kobain or Councilor Proctor. When she did

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catch up with one of them, it turns out they had gone on their own

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excursion. We decided to drive up to Barcelona to see Barcelona. I mean,

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that's what we decided to do. But at the ratepayers' expense? Yes. Do you

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not see anything incongruous? What benefit has it been to the

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ratepayer? I have seen ideas that will assist the council in providing

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jobs in the city. One Spotlight ended what was a running sore in the

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council and that was the whole culture of junketeering. One

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programme stopped it. Keeping an eye on how politicians used public money

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or services would become a running theme with Spotlight. The programme

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revealed that another politician had been wrongly using the disabled

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Motability scheme to acquire the use of a car. This is the West Car Park

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at Stormont buildings. And this is a Motability car. The car has, in

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fact, been hired out to a disabled person. But it appears to be being

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used by one of its named drivers, Sinn Fein councilor Alex Maskey as a

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means of getting to work. Spotlight wrote to Alex Maskey to ask him if

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he would talk about this subject but he declined. So we decided to come

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to Stormont to talk to him about this issue. Hello, Mr Maskey. It's

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Andy Davies from the spotlight programme. The answer was no. I seem

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to remember Alex Maskey being dubbed Motability Maskey in the end. But by

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now a new generation was coming through to learn their trade in

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Northern Ireland. It wasn't an easy position to get. Working here was

:20:09.:20:15.

seen as the best job in journalism. For a young journalist this was a

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place where people sorted out their differences through bombs and

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bullets. And there was the marching season. I mean, that, to a young

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Englishman's eyes, looks like something out of Borneo. You cannot

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imagine how alien that looked. Early on, Thompson was asked to look at

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the shootings of three IRA members by the SAS in Gibraltar. We looked

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in that direction and saw a chap with a white shirt reeling backwards

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with a man standing maybe four feet away from him and firing a gun and

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following him down as he fell. They look like they were just shot. It

:20:57.:21:01.

seemed to me this was a deliberate shooting to kill. My overall

:21:02.:21:05.

impression that it did shine a light onto issues. I was unhappy with some

:21:06.:21:13.

of the focus in terms of that which well glamourised the terrorists,

:21:14.:21:23.

almost providing an excuse for them. Here were the days of the state

:21:24.:21:26.

saying they weren't fighting a war so therefore they were fighting

:21:27.:21:29.

according to the norms of civilian laws. So therefore you couldn't have

:21:30.:21:37.

assassination squads, murder squads running about killing people that

:21:38.:21:40.

you didn't like. It was to become one of the most controversial and

:21:41.:21:43.

contentious programmes Spotlight would ever make. SAS men actually

:21:44.:21:48.

had to apologise to people as they charged past, trying to conceal

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their guns. Spotlight would allege that the official account of the

:21:55.:21:57.

shootings was flawed and present evidence to the contrary. It was the

:21:58.:22:05.

government which had first gone. They were setting out but they said

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had happened. The journalist job is to say, hold on, is that what

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actually happened? You speak truth to power. . Why wouldn't Spotlight

:22:16.:22:25.

do that? The Government, led by Margaret Thatcher, was outraged. The

:22:26.:22:33.

danger is that witnesses whose evidence is vital to the matters are

:22:34.:22:37.

questioned without any of the safeguards which we can get in

:22:38.:22:40.

courts of law or before tribunal 's have tried. It is one of the

:22:41.:22:46.

proudest bastions of liberty that the rule of law is upheld. Spotlight

:22:47.:22:53.

went ahead and ran the programme, despite masse political opposition.

:22:54.:22:58.

But Spotlight investigations weren't always about the Troubles. In fact,

:22:59.:23:04.

some of the most memorable were undercover investigations into

:23:05.:23:08.

crime. For me, Spotlight and the people behind the programme, the

:23:09.:23:11.

programme planners, still took time out to produce programmes that were

:23:12.:23:14.

not Troubles related and that was a great barometer. Of a secret world

:23:15.:23:22.

and a hidden and unknown world. For the birds themselves, there is only

:23:23.:23:26.

one prospect to be forced to fight to the death. In 1994, Spotlight

:23:27.:23:30.

investigated the world of illegal cockfighting. Two exhausted birds

:23:31.:23:36.

are forced together. The white bird has been skewered through the neck

:23:37.:23:44.

attached to its opponent's leg. By the time I arrived on Spotlight the

:23:45.:23:46.

cockfighting investigation had been underway for some months. But then

:23:47.:23:51.

we needed to bring it on to the next stage, which was to get hold of the

:23:52.:23:55.

people responsible and put it to them what they had been doing. That

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is you, isn't it, Mr Quinn? No, it's not. It is you, isn't it, Mr Quinn?

:24:00.:24:03.

Hang on a minute. Are you detectives or something? Hey, Rosemary, let the

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show that, see if you show that show that, see if you show that

:24:07.:24:10.

camera? I will personally locking shove it down your throat. For me,

:24:11.:24:15.

unless someone from Spotlight is actually chasing someone up a lane,

:24:16.:24:18.

knocking at a window of a farmhouse where potentially grievous bodily

:24:19.:24:22.

harm will take place? There was no real fear in Spotlight. OK, let's

:24:23.:24:25.

just take a cameraman and a reporter and we're going to go to a remote

:24:26.:24:29.

farmhouse. And then confront them with a moral point that I wouldn't

:24:30.:24:33.

even do in a studio. The problem with locking yourself in the back of

:24:34.:24:37.

your own van is what to do you do next. He preferred the indignity of

:24:38.:24:51.

burying himself. Can I do this through the window? Jeremy the

:24:52.:24:58.

reporter put the pictures through the small space in the window and

:24:59.:25:01.

confronted him. Is this you? Is this you, Mr? Whatever his name was. I

:25:02.:25:05.

think one of the significances of that film was that it got picked up

:25:06.:25:09.

by the Royal Television Society the next year for an award. And I think

:25:10.:25:13.

it gave the programme a confidence that you know this was our terrain,

:25:14.:25:17.

we could be doing this. But the world of politics and paramilitary

:25:18.:25:19.

violence was still the day-to-day subject matter for Spotlight.

:25:20.:25:22.

Sometimes it would try to investigate paramilitary

:25:23.:25:23.

organisations. Often, it simply tried to count the human cost of

:25:24.:25:42.

their violence. I knew the boys were dead. I cursed and I screamed

:25:43.:25:58.

because I knew there was no way they were getting out of there. I keep

:25:59.:26:06.

asking myself why it was not me? I have had a good innings. By 1994,

:26:07.:26:17.

things were changing fast. Spotlight journalists had become used to the

:26:18.:26:20.

fact that covering death and destruction would always be part of

:26:21.:26:24.

the job but the events of August, 1994, meant they had to think again.

:26:25.:26:31.

There was a real sense we were living through history. I found

:26:32.:26:34.

myself right in the middle of the team. On the eve of the cease-fire,

:26:35.:26:45.

Spotlight went to meet the leading Republican Bernadette McAliskey. I

:26:46.:26:48.

think that for Republicans the war is over. I think the good guys lost.

:26:49.:26:58.

That is the kind of interview clip we remember. Within a day, we saw

:26:59.:27:06.

the IRA cease-fire announcement. The first response came in Belfast

:27:07.:27:16.

itself. For that autumn season of Spotlight, there was only one big

:27:17.:27:21.

story. What the cease-fire actually meant for people living here. The

:27:22.:27:28.

cease-fire makes a big difference. I no longer have to worry about people

:27:29.:27:32.

sitting behind me going to blow my head. I never went into town since

:27:33.:27:43.

the troubles were on. The cease-fires changed the political

:27:44.:27:48.

dynamic. Suddenly, the onus was on politicians to talk to one another

:27:49.:27:52.

and their voters about the best way forward. Spotlight brought them into

:27:53.:27:56.

the studio to do just that and sometimes there were fiery debates.

:27:57.:28:03.

It is called motion 79. Use tabled it at your general assembly -- you

:28:04.:28:10.

tabled it. There was a party paper. You carried the cloth and glorified

:28:11.:28:17.

the death of a man who murdered mercilessly. I think you have made

:28:18.:28:25.

your point. I regard you because you were born in Ireland as an Irish

:28:26.:28:29.

person. When the first cease-fire broke down with the Canary Wharf

:28:30.:28:34.

bomb on a Spotlight decided to name the men at the heart of IRA

:28:35.:28:39.

decision-making. Spotlight spoke to many sources and all of them agreed

:28:40.:28:49.

that this is one of the most senior men in the IRA. The most intelligent

:28:50.:28:57.

monetary operator that the RA has produced is Brian Keenan. Those who

:28:58.:29:01.

do not want peace, they will get war. The people in Northern Ireland

:29:02.:29:07.

did not know whether the IRA would lay down in weapons again, but they

:29:08.:29:12.

did know the identities of the men who were making the decisions. The

:29:13.:29:17.

BBC took the view that we had very substantial evidence to justify the

:29:18.:29:21.

assertion that these men were running the IRA and frankly only the

:29:22.:29:28.

BBC is big enough and had sufficient cloud to say, we are going to name

:29:29.:29:34.

them. If they want to sue us, we will see them in court. --

:29:35.:29:42.

sufficient clout. Social attitudes were changing too, however slowly.

:29:43.:29:48.

20 years after looking at laws that homosexuality, Spotlight went back

:29:49.:29:51.

to the issue in a memorable programme. It was a programme about

:29:52.:29:57.

the Brigadier's son who was gay and came back to Belfast. John Lyttle

:29:58.:30:02.

was the son of Tucker Lyttle. He agreed to come back to Belfast from

:30:03.:30:08.

London to explore what life was like for gay people here. He encountered

:30:09.:30:13.

some opposition. I am gay. That is my gift from God. No, it is not. It

:30:14.:30:22.

is like blonde hair and blue eyes. This book tells differently. Do you

:30:23.:30:26.

believe homosexuals should be treated differently under the law? I

:30:27.:30:32.

have no problem with that. I came away from that programme thinking,

:30:33.:30:37.

we are not just as bad as people make out, we are not as backward, as

:30:38.:30:43.

nasty and homophobic. Not everyone was a fan of the

:30:44.:30:48.

programme. It is not that important for us to know that the leader of a

:30:49.:30:57.

loyalist paramilitary group. Sun had a different sexuality to his

:30:58.:31:01.

father. I do not know how important matters. Just before the programme

:31:02.:31:08.

went out, Tucker Lyttle asked to meet with the reported to discuss

:31:09.:31:12.

it. I explained what we were trying to do and it was not a hatchet job.

:31:13.:31:18.

It was very amicable. At the end of the conversation, I put my hand in

:31:19.:31:23.

my pocket and I got a business card out and I reached it over to him and

:31:24.:31:29.

I said, here is my card, you can bring me any time you like. John put

:31:30.:31:36.

don't need to give my daddy or card, don't need to give my daddy or card,

:31:37.:31:41.

I am sure he knows where you live anyway. -- my dad your card. The

:31:42.:31:48.

Spotlight archive is a document of how much things have changed here in

:31:49.:31:52.

Northern Ireland. For those who remember the dark days of the

:31:53.:31:56.

violence, and arguably the biggest change of all is peace. Looking at

:31:57.:32:02.

40 years of programmes, you can see how we got here, gradually and with

:32:03.:32:06.

the old certainties being chipped away at year after year. We fight

:32:07.:32:16.

because the people want us to fight. Total cessation of all violence. No

:32:17.:32:22.

guns, no government. Republicans are serious about discussions. I

:32:23.:32:34.

asked... Not everybody wanted to move forward. Some refused to lay

:32:35.:32:38.

down their guns. Others went looking for more. In this programme, we went

:32:39.:32:47.

on the trail of a dissident arms smuggling operation in the Balkans.

:32:48.:32:57.

He took out a rocket launcher 200 metres from MI6. The crucial thing

:32:58.:33:03.

for us was to be able to place two of these dissident republicans in

:33:04.:33:07.

Croatia. We had heard about a hotel they might have been staying at. We

:33:08.:33:14.

went there one night. We bought the night porter a glass of whiskey and

:33:15.:33:17.

persuaded this very nice chap to hand over the hotel logs over the

:33:18.:33:22.

last few years and low and behold there they were, the two names

:33:23.:33:29.

signed and dated. There was, the Croatian connection in

:33:30.:33:32.

black-and-white. Would you like to respond to comments made in the... ?

:33:33.:33:37.

The team put their evidence to one of the men, the man alleged to be

:33:38.:33:44.

the leader of the continuity IFA, Joe Fee. Can I have a word with you,

:33:45.:33:51.

for just one moment, please? The Croat connection, incidentally, I

:33:52.:33:55.

consider it to be one of the pieces of journalism that I am most proud

:33:56.:33:59.

of in all of the years I have been working as a journalist. Every

:34:00.:34:04.

journalist dreams of a big breakthrough, when they get enough

:34:05.:34:06.

evidence to tell a really important story. In 2000, Spotlight gained

:34:07.:34:12.

access to secret security services surveillance footage that allowed

:34:13.:34:16.

them to tell the story of an IRA quartermaster who had been shot dead

:34:17.:34:21.

by armed police in London. MI5 had been following Diarmaid O'Neill and

:34:22.:34:25.

his associates because they believed he was planning a bombing campaign.

:34:26.:34:30.

The operation ended up with a man shot dead. The surveillance tapes

:34:31.:34:33.

broadcast by Spotlight show just how the killing came about. Slowly

:34:34.:34:39.

coming across. Brian McHugh is another who believes Diarmaid

:34:40.:34:45.

O'Neill was surrendering. He was in the room when he is shot. He is

:34:46.:34:49.

currently in the republican wing in the maze prison. It was during the

:34:50.:34:55.

making of the programme that someone made contact with us and said they

:34:56.:35:00.

have got some material that we should really look at. We were

:35:01.:35:05.

presented with a bin bag full of tapes. They were security service

:35:06.:35:12.

surveillance tapes and there were dozens of them and they were tapes

:35:13.:35:17.

of footage of the down crisscrossing London. Diarmaid O'Neill and his

:35:18.:35:23.

colleagues in the park, in a street, in cars.

:35:24.:35:29.

We then realised that we had something that had never been seen

:35:30.:35:33.

on British television before. We had security service surveillance

:35:34.:35:40.

material and we had the commentary of the officers in their cars while

:35:41.:35:45.

they were watching the gang. Going straight on. The programme also had

:35:46.:35:53.

access to police audio recordings of the moment when the gang was

:35:54.:35:58.

apprehended in their hotel room and Diarmaid O'Neill was shot dead by

:35:59.:35:59.

armed police. In terms of the footage, things like

:36:00.:36:20.

that rarely happen in your career. Every journalist hopes for the

:36:21.:36:25.

envelope being posted under his door.

:36:26.:36:44.

We gave people an insight into the security services operation that

:36:45.:36:50.

they had never seen before and we were able to count the story of

:36:51.:36:56.

Diarmaid O'Neill and his final hours in a complete way that no one else

:36:57.:37:02.

had done before because we had that footage. From investigating

:37:03.:37:06.

dissident republicans to state security services, Spotlight was

:37:07.:37:11.

breaking new ground and in 2003 it was the turn of loyalists. The

:37:12.:37:16.

programme gained unprecedented access to loyalist paramilitaries at

:37:17.:37:20.

a time when they were at war with each other. The Spotlight are member

:37:21.:37:26.

most was about the UDA. Spotlight first looked at John White in 2000.

:37:27.:37:31.

He was associated with the UDA, an organisation that had been accused

:37:32.:37:34.

of widespread criminality. Spotlight asked him how he had come by all of

:37:35.:37:39.

the trappings of wealth. I have worked hard all of my life. When I

:37:40.:37:44.

was 11, I worked. While I was imprisoned, I worked very hard also.

:37:45.:37:48.

I was able to save the money I made out of hand across -- handicrafts. I

:37:49.:37:56.

knew when he said it, it was one of those golden moments. I invested in

:37:57.:38:01.

the stock exchange. I was watching it sitting in a terraced house in

:38:02.:38:06.

Portadown. I could hear my neighbours roaring with laughter.

:38:07.:38:17.

Three years later, Kevin Magee met John White again. I never received

:38:18.:38:30.

extortion at all. What do you think the public think? You are getting

:38:31.:38:34.

into things that I do not want to talk about. URA public figure. They

:38:35.:38:46.

are jealous. People constantly ask, where does John White get his

:38:47.:38:52.

money? You are driving a Jaguar. I don't drink or smoke. Spotlight also

:38:53.:38:59.

met loyalist Sammy Duddy to discuss the ongoing feud. Gunmen had

:39:00.:39:03.

attacked his house and while he and his wife escaped unscathed one of

:39:04.:39:09.

his pet dogs did not. The dog died within an hour. Why wife got up and

:39:10.:39:15.

shouted out the window at them. What did you shout? I shouted, you have

:39:16.:39:23.

killed my Chihuahua! Kevin was given access to the infamous Big Brother

:39:24.:39:36.

house, home to Johnny Adair. He wanted to bring the cameras in. He

:39:37.:39:42.

wanted us to see him in his lair. Johnny Adair was outside and had

:39:43.:39:46.

fallen out with the others and it was a short space of time at the

:39:47.:39:51.

peak of the feud that is when they were all trashing each other. That

:39:52.:39:54.

programme was made in a very short space of time, in about 24 hours.

:39:55.:40:00.

When a question is booked that Johnny when a question is put that

:40:01.:40:08.

Johnny Adair does not want to answer, the atmosphere changes.

:40:09.:40:15.

A large element of this feud is that you were trying to muscle in on

:40:16.:40:20.

their turf. Most people, there is a graduation towards a point of anger

:40:21.:40:25.

and you can feel your way in a conversation. But not on those

:40:26.:40:30.

occasions. I used to feel that these guys were on very short fuses. Their

:40:31.:40:35.

lives were under threat. Sometimes people at the heart of a big story

:40:36.:40:42.

did want to talk. And in early 2005, no story was bigger than the

:40:43.:40:46.

Northern bank robbery. After the bank robbery, there was only one

:40:47.:40:53.

story in town. Chris Ward was the bank employee who had been forced to

:40:54.:41:00.

help the robbers rob the bank. I was astounded when he walked into the

:41:01.:41:06.

office that day. I did not think he would turn up. The interview was

:41:07.:41:10.

broadcast the next day in a special programme. How much do you estimate

:41:11.:41:24.

was in the second consignment? Iit would help allay any lingering or

:41:25.:41:27.

lurking suspicion that he was somehow involved. Did you feel like

:41:28.:41:32.

you're under suspicion? When you read, you try not to read into

:41:33.:41:35.

stupid media articles. But when you read things like that or if Joe

:41:36.:41:39.

Bloggs in the street would read things like that, they would think,

:41:40.:41:46.

your wee man must be involved. And then I remember once the interview

:41:47.:41:50.

was broadcast, and my phone just went, it was red hot, I remember.

:41:51.:41:53.

And there were journalists on from Australia, from Germany, from

:41:54.:41:56.

everywhere. And they all wanted to know more about the Chris Ward

:41:57.:41:59.

interview and the Northern Bank robbery, which at that time was one

:42:00.:42:03.

of the biggest in the world. Not everyone is willing to sit down for

:42:04.:42:06.

a spotlight interview. But sometimes questions have to be asked anyway.

:42:07.:42:09.

That's where the doorstep interview comes in. Often it happens in a

:42:10.:42:21.

public place, and for Spotlight reporters, door-stepping is part of

:42:22.:42:23.

the job description. How are you doing? And this is the

:42:24.:42:37.

stuff and definitely this is diazepam. And now is a good time to

:42:38.:42:41.

tell you that I am Jennifer O'Leary, a reporter for BBC Spotlight. I just

:42:42.:42:44.

wanted to find out from you where are you getting those drugs? You

:42:45.:42:48.

know this is illegal? I wouldn't come any further. You're having a

:42:49.:42:53.

laugh? No. You better be slagging me, mate. We've been filming you for

:42:54.:42:58.

the BBC. You're having a giraffe! We have, we've been filling you for the

:42:59.:43:02.

BBC and we want to ask you what you're at. And what you're getting

:43:03.:43:05.

up to. Stephen Walker, BBC Television. Why are you selling

:43:06.:43:08.

clocked cars? It's nerve-wracking, it's

:43:09.:43:14.

frightening, you are worried that you are going to get the words wrong

:43:15.:43:17.

because you have only got one chance. You know, it's a bit like

:43:18.:43:24.

taking a penalty kick at Wembley in front of 100,000 people. You've only

:43:25.:43:27.

got one chance. Bishop Hegarty, Darragh McIntyre, BBC Spotlight. I

:43:28.:43:30.

was wondering could we have a wee word with you about Father Eugene

:43:31.:43:33.

Greene? Yeah. Did the Church handle the issue of father Eugene Greene

:43:34.:43:37.

appropriately? Oh, yes. Any chance of people getting their money back?

:43:38.:43:41.

I will not answer your question. Mr McIlhome, Ciaran Tracey from BBC

:43:42.:43:46.

Spotlight. Can we ask you about your waste smuggling operation, Jimmy?

:43:47.:43:50.

How much money are you making? BBC Northern Ireland, are you going to

:43:51.:43:53.

compensate the victims of IRA violence? Mr McGuinness, where is

:43:54.:43:54.

Captain Robert Nairac's body? I Captain Robert Nairac's body? I

:43:55.:43:59.

haven't got a clue. Mr McGuinness. Mr Gonzales, my name is Mandy

:44:00.:44:03.

McAuley, I'm a reporter with the BBC, I want to ask you about illegal

:44:04.:44:06.

dogfighting. You've been holding illegal dogfights at your home. At

:44:07.:44:11.

this point, police stepped in to arrest him. Do you like watching

:44:12.:44:19.

animals suffer? One tool journalists available to Spotlight journalists

:44:20.:44:22.

when following a story is secret filming. It's only allowed in

:44:23.:44:26.

limited circumstances, but over the years Spotlight has come to

:44:27.:44:28.

specialise in long-term undercover investigations. We will never engage

:44:29.:44:36.

expeditions of just sending cameras expeditions of just sending cameras

:44:37.:44:39.

or recording equipment somewhere in the hope that something might turn

:44:40.:44:42.

up. That is untoward. We need good evidence that something is wrong

:44:43.:44:45.

before we will contemplate secretly recording it. Sometimes it can be

:44:46.:44:51.

dangerous. In 2002, Spotlight asked two young Lithuanian journalists to

:44:52.:44:54.

go undercover as they were illegally trafficked to Northern Ireland to

:44:55.:44:57.

work on farms. The programme was called People for Sale. In order to

:44:58.:45:05.

deceive immigration, Juarate is sending them on a less direct route.

:45:06.:45:12.

We're in Helsinki airport and Saulius and Loreta are right behind

:45:13.:45:15.

us over there in that queue. Now, they're about to board a flight to

:45:16.:45:19.

Dublin and there they'll be met by an agent, and he's going to drive

:45:20.:45:23.

them North of the border. The only thing that can scupper the entire

:45:24.:45:26.

plan is passport control at Dublin airport. But whilst undercover in

:45:27.:45:29.

Lithuania, one of the journalists, Loreta, had a dangerous encounter.

:45:30.:45:34.

She met with a people trafficker, and went with him to a restaurant.

:45:35.:45:37.

Spotlight journalist Emma Tolland watched them from outside. Two black

:45:38.:45:49.

cars pulled up outside. And about eight very burly, well-built men

:45:50.:45:52.

walked into the building. They didn't look like they were there for

:45:53.:45:55.

a meal. They weren't. They were there to attack the man Loreta had

:45:56.:45:59.

just met. She was caught in the middle of a Lithuanian gang feud.

:46:00.:46:03.

And she was wearing a secret camera. All of the curtains were closed in

:46:04.:46:06.

the restaurant and the front door was bolted shut.

:46:07.:46:16.

Luckily, Loreta had been trained well, and as soon as she smelled the

:46:17.:46:19.

danger she got up from the table and well, and as soon as she smelled the

:46:20.:46:24.

left and stood in a corner with the other customers in the restaurant to

:46:25.:46:27.

keep herself safe. The programme ended with Spotlight putting

:46:28.:46:30.

questions to those involved in the people-trafficking ring, both in

:46:31.:46:33.

Northern Ireland and in Lithuania. Hello, Mr Kernan, my name's Declan

:46:34.:46:37.

Lawn, I'm from the BBC. I was wondering, could you talk to me

:46:38.:46:40.

about your involvement in the trafficking of illegal workers into

:46:41.:46:49.

Northern Ireland? If the police see you, first of all, you're on

:46:50.:46:53.

holiday. And that's it. And in the farm there will be no problem? No.

:46:54.:47:02.

In 2007, Spotlight investigated the hidden world of illegal dogfighting.

:47:03.:47:10.

We had to hire undercover operates who would pose and live as members

:47:11.:47:13.

of a dogfighting gang here in Northern Ireland for one-and-a-half

:47:14.:47:16.

years. There was blood splattered all over the ring, all over the two

:47:17.:47:19.

handlers. Blood was everywhere. It was an absolute bloodbath. These

:47:20.:47:22.

were very, very dangerous people and if our undercover operates had been

:47:23.:47:25.

rumbled, they were in serious, serious trouble. Mandy McAuley and

:47:26.:47:28.

undercover reporter Steve found themselves in a remote part of rural

:47:29.:47:31.

Finland where illegal pitbulls were being trained to be killing

:47:32.:47:39.

machines. I remember looking up and seeing dogs hanging from their jaw

:47:40.:47:42.

and this was all part of strengthening their jaws for the

:47:43.:47:52.

fight. And standing there and Steve digging me in the ribs and hissing,

:47:53.:47:56.

smile. For god's sake smile and laugh. We're dog fighters. We don't

:47:57.:47:59.

care. The undercover footage revealed a world of intense cruelty.

:48:00.:48:04.

There were times when just the tears filled up. You see what these

:48:05.:48:08.

horrible people are doing to these wonderful animals. If I had my way

:48:09.:48:15.

they would be locked up and jailed for life. But death was to be at the

:48:16.:48:19.

hands of Robert Gonzales. Gonzales lifted the dog and took it to a side

:48:20.:48:23.

building. The first that we knew that something was up was that all

:48:24.:48:27.

the lights in the barn went off. It wasn't until afterwards that he said

:48:28.:48:31.

that he took the dog into a shed and put a crocodile clip onto its tail

:48:32.:48:35.

and a crocodile clip onto its ear and threw a bucket of water over the

:48:36.:48:39.

dog and rigged it to the main electricity system to kill it. Steve

:48:40.:48:44.

was a guy, very tough, never really showed his emotions. But he came out

:48:45.:48:51.

and he was disturbed. It wasn't just the undercover reporter who was

:48:52.:48:55.

disturbed. Over the following days, Spotlight and the BBC were inundated

:48:56.:49:00.

with reaction from the audience. I remember when the dogfighting

:49:01.:49:03.

programme went out and that is indicative of what Spotlight's all

:49:04.:49:07.

about. It's at the very heart of Spotlight, that you're actually

:49:08.:49:10.

seeing what's going on in Northern Ireland. But until Spotlight does

:49:11.:49:14.

it, it's hidden. And then it's hitting you up the face, this is

:49:15.:49:17.

happening here. This is happening in our country, and then everybody

:49:18.:49:23.

wants to talk about it. Four years later, and Mandy McAuley was

:49:24.:49:25.

revealing another type of secret world. But this was one had been

:49:26.:49:35.

created by a killer. She met a young woman who was coming to terms with

:49:36.:49:38.

the fact that her father had murdered her mother almost 20 years

:49:39.:49:43.

before. At the end of the day he's my father and I love him and I can't

:49:44.:49:47.

help having those feelings for him and I don't apologise for having

:49:48.:49:51.

those feelings for him. I love him very much and, like I say, although

:49:52.:49:55.

I'll never understand how he could have done that, he is the only one

:49:56.:49:59.

really who can give me some of the answers that I need. It was the case

:50:00.:50:15.

of Colin Howell. Aided by his then-lover, Hazel Stewart, Howell

:50:16.:50:17.

had murdered his wife, Leslie, and Stewart's husband, Trevor Buchanan.

:50:18.:50:24.

The powerful series of interviews with the children of those involved,

:50:25.:50:26.

almost 20 years after the crime, with the children of those involved,

:50:27.:50:31.

made a big impression on audiences. Your mum has been convicted,

:50:32.:50:34.

unanimously convicted, by a jury of murdering your father. There are

:50:35.:50:43.

people watching who will say by standing by your mum you have in

:50:44.:50:46.

some way betrayed your father's memory. We love our father and our

:50:47.:50:56.

mother, you know? So we are not taking any sides. We wouldn't have

:50:57.:51:01.

wanted what has happened to her. Not ever to happen. But we have lost? We

:51:02.:51:07.

lost our dad and this? Nearly feels like we are going to lose our mum.

:51:08.:51:18.

The grace and dignity that they showed in those interviews, it

:51:19.:51:21.

really was humbling, very wise heads on young shoulders, very moving. And

:51:22.:51:29.

they had waited so long, they had waited so long to tell their side of

:51:30.:51:43.

the story. In a new, post-conflict Northern Ireland, Spotlight has

:51:44.:51:49.

changed with the times. But dealing with unanswered questions about the

:51:50.:51:53.

past will always be part of its role. And that's why, in 2007,

:51:54.:51:57.

Spotlight returned to an issue it has first looked at almost 30 years

:51:58.:52:00.

previously. The death and disappearance of Captain Robert

:52:01.:52:05.

Nairac. And when the programme makers set out on their

:52:06.:52:14.

investigation, they started here. The search began in the vaults of

:52:15.:52:18.

the BBC. And I remember in particular the day we went across to

:52:19.:52:21.

this big warehouse and found our way to one particular shelf and there

:52:22.:52:25.

was a box labeled Captain Robert Nairac and it was dated 29 years

:52:26.:52:29.

earlier. And you opened up the box and there were all these tapes from

:52:30.:52:33.

back then and in particular there were these documents. They were the

:52:34.:52:36.

transcripts of the different trials of various people who had already

:52:37.:52:40.

been processed for their role in the killing of Captain Robert Nairac. I

:52:41.:52:43.

was astonished to open up, all those years on, to have all that body of

:52:44.:52:47.

evidence ready to use. Which Roisin McAuley's team had left behind for

:52:48.:52:50.

us to follow up all those years later. I hope he could read my

:52:51.:52:55.

handwriting! One of the men involved in the killing had gone on the run

:52:56.:52:58.

immediately afterwards. He settled in America, and until Spotlight

:52:59.:53:02.

knocked on his door, he had never been traced. Terry McCormick has

:53:03.:53:10.

been on the run in America for the past 30 years. His account of what

:53:11.:53:13.

happened that night is exclusive to Spotlight, and it is the first time

:53:14.:53:17.

that anyone involved in the killing has spoken publicly. I ran in behind

:53:18.:53:25.

him and put my finger to the back of his head, hoping he would think it

:53:26.:53:30.

was a gun. I asked him for his licence. He turned around swiftly, I

:53:31.:53:37.

punched him in the face. I heard what I assumed to be a gun. Terry

:53:38.:53:44.

McCormick told Spotlight how he had been struggling to live with his

:53:45.:53:49.

part in the killing ever since. There's not a day that goes by that

:53:50.:53:53.

I don't say a prayer for Captain Nairac. Spotlight's two

:53:54.:53:55.

investigations into the death of Captain Robert Nairac - 30 years

:53:56.:53:59.

apart - both, in their own way, broke new ground. But the final

:54:00.:54:02.

chapter of the tale has yet to be written. And it remains to be seen

:54:03.:54:06.

if it ever will be. I'm very glad that someone followed through.

:54:07.:54:23.

Because Captain Robert Nairac's body is still out there and the IRA in

:54:24.:54:27.

South Armagh is simply not ready to give up its dead. Over the last few

:54:28.:54:35.

years, Spotlight has found itself doing a different kind of

:54:36.:54:41.

investigation. More and more in a post-conflict society, it's

:54:42.:54:46.

following the money. Is your family hiding millions? Oh, billions. In

:54:47.:54:52.

the past, Spotlight, like everybody else, would have been concentrating

:54:53.:54:55.

heavily on security and the world of paramilitaries. These days it is

:54:56.:55:02.

politics, it is business, it is all the more complicated areas. If we

:55:03.:55:05.

are going to move into a normal political environment, you are going

:55:06.:55:08.

to need fewer paramilitary experts and more accountants. The

:55:09.:55:12.

investigation into Sean Quinn's financial collapse and its

:55:13.:55:15.

consequences in Northern Ireland and the South took the spotlight team

:55:16.:55:18.

around the world. Well, it was such a complicated area which had such

:55:19.:55:22.

wide ramifications for the Border counties of Ireland, North and

:55:23.:55:27.

South. But also the wider Irish economy. And to explain this amazing

:55:28.:55:33.

money trail from Stockholm to Ukraine and ending up at literally

:55:34.:55:36.

this small keyhole post box in Belize. This is the registered

:55:37.:55:46.

office of a company which owns a $100 million in Moscow. It is

:55:47.:55:58.

difficult to see who else would have had the resources to do it properly.

:55:59.:56:01.

But that was a very effective investigation. So this is what $60

:56:02.:56:05.

million of prime retail real estate in Kiev looks like. I think it's

:56:06.:56:10.

really important in this day and age that there is still room for

:56:11.:56:13.

in-depth investigation where every stone can be unturned. One of

:56:14.:56:19.

Spotlight's most significant investigations in recent years was

:56:20.:56:21.

into financial issues surrounding Iris Robinson's affair with Kirk

:56:22.:56:32.

McCambley. I was asked to go to speak to somebody about a story

:56:33.:56:36.

which they thought they had and I went to speak to this particular

:56:37.:56:39.

person. This source. And they explained to me the gist of it and I

:56:40.:56:43.

looked at them and I just thought you are winding me up here, this

:56:44.:56:47.

can't be true. Spotlight revealed how Iris Robinson had solicited

:56:48.:56:50.

money from two property developers to help set her 19-year-old lover up

:56:51.:56:56.

in business. Two cheques, each to the tune of ?25,000, were made out,

:56:57.:57:00.

at her behest, to Kirk McCambley. How did you get the money? Two

:57:01.:57:03.

cheques. Written out to you? Yes, written out to me. I remember the

:57:04.:57:14.

day that the editor of Spotlight brought that story to me and told me

:57:15.:57:18.

about it. Do you think this is a story that we can do? And my answer

:57:19.:57:24.

to him was, not is it a story that we can do. On the basis of what you

:57:25.:57:28.

have told me, it is a story that we must do. Spotlight interviewed a

:57:29.:57:31.

former confidant of Iris Robinson, Selwyn Black, who set out in detail

:57:32.:57:36.

the sequence of events. In talking to the BBC, there is no personal

:57:37.:57:49.

gain in this for me. Sorry. The programme caused a sensation. It was

:57:50.:57:58.

one of the best pieces of investigate journalism, television

:57:59.:58:00.

journalism, certainly in this country, that I have ever seen.

:58:01.:58:05.

Revelation after revelation after revelation and the country must have

:58:06.:58:08.

sat and watched that with a sense of disbelief. But not everyone feels

:58:09.:58:20.

the investigation was worthwhile. I think as a unionist, I would say

:58:21.:58:24.

there are far more deserving cases that could have have? I mean, like

:58:25.:58:27.

the paedophile brother of the leader of republicanism has never been

:58:28.:58:31.

made. Why? But yet, people have a go at the unionist MP or the wife of a

:58:32.:58:35.

unionist leader who has medical issues. Would they have done that on

:58:36.:58:40.

anyone else? I don't know. The key point about that story was the

:58:41.:58:43.

?50,000. That an elected politician thought they could take ?50,000 from

:58:44.:58:47.

two property developers and do with it what they would. What part of

:58:48.:58:53.

that did Iris Robinson think was right? Spotlight, like Northern

:58:54.:58:56.

Ireland, has changed beyond recognition over the last 40 years.

:58:57.:59:03.

But some things are the same. In the future, the programme will still try

:59:04.:59:06.

to tell people the truth about things that matter and that they

:59:07.:59:10.

didn't know before. After all, as the old saying goes, life begins at

:59:11.:59:18.

40. It's wanting to ask questions about why and who and how and where

:59:19.:59:22.

and not wanting to take full hit for an answer. Clearly, the programme

:59:23.:59:32.

has been in rude health and continues to do the important thing,

:59:33.:59:35.

which is to find people in positions of power who are abusing people

:59:36.:59:39.

without power and kissing them right off. So here's to another 7000 years

:59:40.:59:42.

of Spotlight. # Happy Birthday to you. I think it is absolutely

:59:43.:59:47.

wonderful that it is 40. I will open a bottle of champagne. # Happy

:59:48.:59:50.

birthday to you. Happy birthday, Spotlight. Happy birthday, dear

:59:51.:59:54.

Spotlight. Happy Birthday. Giz a job! Stay safe up those lanes when

:59:55.:00:00.

you're trying to track men down who are potentially very scary. # Happy

:00:01.:00:02.

birthday to you.

:00:03.:00:11.

Spotlight marks its 40th anniversary. This special edition reflects on some of the programme's most significant investigations, delving into archives across four decades and hearing from former reporters Jeremy Paxman and Gavin Esler.


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