BBC denies endangering soldiers' lives

The BBC has dismissed claims by Defence Secretary Des Browne that an interview broadcast on BBC television news earlier this week "carelessly" endangered the lives of British soldiers in Afghanistan.

The item featured an interview with a Taliban leader, who said that his forces would greet more British troops in Helmand with attacks.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: "The BBC does not believe that we created confusion in broadcasting the interview with the Taliban commander in Helmand province.

The interview was carried out when it had become clear that a significant reinforcement was being announced by the UK Government.

"It was entirely legitimate to broadcast the Taliban's view that the purpose of the British deployment is to fight war against them.

"We also gave ample space to the Defence Secretary's views, in Parliament, on the mission."

Browne told a Commons Defence Select Committee that the BBC was being careless with the lives of British soldiers by creating "confusion where no confusion exists".

The BBC has the only UK broadcast journalist living in Kabul covering the current deployment.

Alastair Leithead has reported regularly with the British troops and interviewed officers and soldiers on many occasions.

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