by Countryside Alliance

Ofcom has confirmed it will be investigating the BBC following an infringement of privacy complaint made by the Countryside Alliance on behalf of the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds (DSSH).

The complaint relates to an episode of the ‘PM’ programme on BBC Radio 4, which included a feature from a BBC reporter who accompanied League Against Cruel Sports investigators as they followed the Stag Hounds earlier this year.

The feature, broadcast on Monday 4 February, included a recording of the Master of the DSSH, Mr David Greenwood, which was recorded without prior notice and without his consent. The Countryside Alliance complained that Mr Greenwood’s privacy was infringed in the programme because a recording of Mr Greenwood being ‘doorstepped’ was included in the programme.

Under the Broadcasting Act 1996, Ofcom has a duty to consider and adjudicate on complaints which relate to “unwarranted infringement of privacy in, or in connection with the obtaining of material include in, such programmes.”

On 3 May Ofcom contacted the Countryside Alliance to confirm it has “entertained” the complaint and has requested further information from the BBC before taking a view on the case.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner commented: “We have real concerns about the conduct of the BBC reporter in this programme. In any other situation it would be unreasonable for the BBC to doorstep someone for comment unprepared and without their consent, and use that material as part of a broadcast feature.

“The fact is that no illegal hunting was seen by the reporter or the activists with whom he was recording, and yet they were permitted to repeatedly insinuate law breaking throughout the broadcast.

“We are pleased Ofcom has decided to entertain this complaint and will ensure they have all the information they need to reach a view on this important case.”

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