BBC admits Dale Farm report was 'unfair'

The BBC has apologised to Basildon council after it complained about a One Show report about Dale Farm trabellers’ site.

The local authority said the popular early evening show was “inaccurate, misleading and biased in favour of the travellers” after it broadcast a piece about the proposed clearance of the site on 14 February.

An investigation by the BBC Trust‘s editorial standards committee found the five-minute report was “duly accurate” and “had not knowingly and materially misled its audiences”.

But it said the programme had “failed to clarify that the site had been developed on greenbelt land”.

It also said it had been “unfair” to the council in allowing a traveller to allege the local authority was “throwing us out on the road” with “nowhere to go” without giving it a right of reply.

The committee also found a studio discussion between presenters Matt Baker and Alex Jones and actor Neil Morrissey, who was a guest on the show, created an “overall impression” that was “unfair” to the council.

The report went on to say that Morrissey, who speculated whether the land had been “earmarked for development”, had “been placed in a very difficult position” when he was asked to comment.

The six-acre site in Crays Hill was cleared earlier this year following a decade-long row over unauthorised plots.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We note the findings of the ESC bulletin, which we have taken very seriously.

“Moving forward, The One Show has reviewed and will continue to strengthen its editorial procedures to ensure accuracy, fairness and due impartiality on all the programme’s output.”

Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: “We are satisfied with the findings.

“The site clearance of Dale Farm has always been about the protection of the green belt, but this was not accurately portrayed by the One Show report, nor the fact that we had made several offers of housing to traveller families.

“Since we made the complaint, these key facts have been more accurately broadcast, helping to aid the public understanding of what the whole issue was about.”

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