MP calls for investigation into organisations profiting from Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s shoddy work for BBC

Andrew Bridgen calls for an investigation to establish if any organisation profited from the inaccurate and shoddy journalism carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for the BBC “Newsnight” investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales.

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): In recent weeks it has become clear that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s work on the BBC “Newsnight” investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales was highly inaccurate and lacked even the most basic journalistic rigour. On Monday 12 November, I wrote to the bureau asking journalists there to detail any payments they had received from the BBC for that work and to return this licence fee payers’ money. As yet I have had no response. Can we have an urgent debate on whether an investigation should be carried out into whether any organisation profited from this shoddy work of journalism, which has caused distress to so many and so damaged the reputation of the BBC?

Mr Lansley: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who raises an important point. Many colleagues will share his view about this. I can reassure him that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has provided no public funding to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Broadcasters are independent of Government, so whether they work with the bureau or any other organisation is a matter for them, but it is also incumbent on them to ensure that they maintain the tradition of strong investigative journalism—which we all appreciate and which is an essential part of public service and commercial broadcasting—in a way that maintains high standards. That is the balance—I think we will be debating this a lot in coming weeks—of achieving freedom and having a mechanism of scrutiny and accountability, which a free press and free broadcasters enable us to have, while maintaining high standards.

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