Analysis: why I turned down Panorama’s interview request

BBC1 programme has no credibility on VIP paedophiles, writes Exaro’s Editor-in-Chief

By Mark Watts | 2 October 2015

Analysis: why I turned down Panorama’s interview requestThis is how I responded to a request by BBC1’s Panorama for an interview with me for its programme on the ‘Westminster paedophile network’…

I often appear on television and radio in the UK and abroad to talk about – and face questions about – Exaro’s work.

I start from the default position of agreeing to such requests. I turn down requests if I have reason to believe that the programme concerned has no credibility or will not treat the subject properly, or if am simply too busy to do them.

Panorama has set out to “debunk” evidence of a ‘Westminster paedophile network’. The programme’s failure to approach the subject with an open mind is evident from its initial intention to have David Aaronovitch present it despite his already having repeatedly dismissed claims about VIP paedophiles as “conspiracy theory”.

I do not say that is fatal to your case. But it is a very poor start.

Now that you have finally set out the areas that you would want me to cover in an interview, it is clear in what direction the programme is heading. I can see why you were reluctant to be open about it with me previously.

Your letter betrays Panorama’s complete lack of objectivity in its approach to the subject. You say that you want to look at issues relating to the truth of the claims, yet you totally omit a crucial tranche of the available evidence.

A major aspect of Exaro’s work on the subject concerns claims by ex-police that as operations started to uncover evidence of child sex abuse by VIPs, senior officers shut them down improperly.

Such articles include:

Police privately admit ‘cover-up’ for paedophile MPs and VIPs

Protected: paedophile MPs and ‘prominent people’, say police

Paedophile operations: ex-police to submit dossier to Met chief

Police discuss submitting statements on paedophile ‘cover-up’

The evidence of several former police officers has led to a series of investigations, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), into whether such operations were closed because of “corruption”:

Leon Brittan: IPCC investigates claim of ‘cover-up’ for top Tory

Scotland Yard’s ‘charge sheet’ for cover-up on ‘VIP paedophiles’

IPCC launches 13 more probes into paedophile ‘cover-ups’

I am astonished that you appear to think that any objective analysis of the available evidence would not regard the claims of former police officers and the consequential IPCC investigations as anything other than highly relevant.

Your failure to include it in the subject areas for an interview with me on the ‘Westminster paedophile network’ is further, clear evidence of a very heavy bias on the part of your programme.

Exaro has also published much about Sir Cyril Smith, the late former Liberal MP. The director of public prosecutions admitted in a statement that on three separate occasions he wrongly escaped prosecution for child sex abuse.

Again, it is strikingly absent from the subject areas that you outline.

I am mindful of the solicitor general’s warning to the media not to pre-judge criminal investigations such as ‘Operation Midland’, which is investigating allegations of child sex abuse and murder by a VIP network. Your approach does not suggest that you are taking proper heed of that warning.

The BBC is hardly a disinterested party on the subject. There are two well-established cases of VIP paedophiles. Both were BBC VIPs. As Exaro reported, BBC executives have embarked on a campaign to delay publication of Dame Janet Smith’s damning inquiry into the scandals at the BBC over Sir Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall.

Panorama’s approach to the subject has demonstrated that it has no credibility on the subject and will not treat it properly. Exaro has strong relationships with whistleblowers – including abuse survivors and former police officers – and cannot be associated with a programme that is attempting a “hatchet job” on such people.

So, my response to your interview request, which you should quote in your programme, is as follows: I decline to be interviewed for the Panorama because the BBC has no credibility on the subject of VIP paedophiles given that the two well-established cases of VIP paedophiles are both BBC VIPs, combined with the clear evidence of a very heavy bias in the programme’s approach to the subject.

Mark Watts is Editor-in-Chief of Exaro.

Revealed: Panorama’s plans to smear survivors of child abuse

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

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