Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:

We recently had the misfortune of being involved in a BBC documentary that repeatedly breached the corporation’s own editorial standards.

We were asked to take part in a BBC Inside Out London documentary purportedly looking at game shooting and game meat, and the growing popularity of both in London.

When our Head of Shooting arrived to do an interview, however, it turned out the BBC had ‘undercover footage’ in which they believed they had captured poor standards of animal welfare which they couldn’t or wouldn’t show to him, but which they expected him to comment on anyway. You can read Liam’s Spectator piece on the whole experience, the highlight of which is that the BBC is still claiming that it was not involved in ‘secret filming’ despite promoting the programme with a clip of its reporter at a game farm running from the sound of an approaching tractor.

“In the 14 years I have been dealing with BBC journalists this is the worst example of editorial practice I have experienced.”

We had considerable correspondence with the editorial team before the programme was broadcast, but the BBC’s response was simply obfuscation and misdirection of our attempts to put the documentary back on the right track. The BBC clearly was only interested in airing the ‘documentary’ with maximum sensation for their urban viewers. The viewers of Inside Out London have been given a flawed, unscientific and frankly ignorant impression of game farming. Meanwhile a legitimate sector of British farming has been smeared by the BBC, and only game farmers will suffer the consequences.

In the 14 years I have been dealing with BBC journalists this is the worst example of editorial practice I have experienced, and what is even more worrying is that it comes hard on the heels of the ridiculous BBC Trust ruling about Chris Packham’s abuse of rural people, and the BBC’s refusal to discuss charter renewal and the countryside at this year’s party conferences.

The BBC still has a, belated, opportunity to accept that there were major faults in the production of the Inside Out London documentary and repair at least some of the damage that it has caused. A failure to do that will only increase our concerns about the BBC’s attitude towards the rural community as a whole.

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