C4 fights off injunction against Dispatches

Channel 4’s current series of its investigative journalism strand Dispatches continued to make an impact this week as it warded off a court injunction to stop a forthcoming programme and faced complaints to regulator Ofcom about a previous one.

A programme scheduled to air yesterday went undercover at a large producer of UK hospital food to determine whether it met the required standards of hygiene and nutritional value.

Tillery Valley Foods sought a High Court injunction to stop the film from being screened this week unless Channel 4 and production company Shine disclosed the sources for their investigation.

But the judge ruled against the bid on Tuesday. A Channel 4 spokesman said: “Had the injunction been successful, it would have had far-reaching consequences for investigative journalism.”

Secret filming in the programme, called “Fit to Eat”, showed workers at Tillery throwing food around, coughing and sneezing while preparing food, as well as dipping ungloved fingers into cooked food. One worker failed to wash his hands after a nosebleed, while another cleaned his fingernails with a knife that came into contact with food.

Ofcom is also investigating allegations of bias against last week’s episode of Dispatches, which looked at a seaside town’s campaign to prevent a centre for asylum-seekers being built in the area.

The programme, called “Keep Them Out”, was filmed and directed by David Modell, who made the Channel 4 documentary Young, Nazi and Proud. It followed the activities of the Daedalus Action Group (DAG) in Lee-on-Solent as they campaigned against Government plans to open an asylum centre at a disused naval base near the town.

However, after having appeared on television expressing racist views about asylum-seekers, members of the group complained to local newspapers and Ofcom about how it was represented.

The Channel 4 spokesman said “David spent a considerable amount of time with the DAG. The film offers a fair reflection of the types of views and attitudes expressed in Lee-on-Solent during the campaign against the accommodation centre.”

By Wale Azeez

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